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Towards Robust Interpretability with Self-Explaining Neural Networks
David Alvarez-Melis · Tommi Jaakkola

Tue Dec 04 02:00 PM -- 04:00 PM (PST) @ Room 517 AB #128

Most recent work on interpretability of complex machine learning models has focused on estimating a-posteriori explanations for previously trained models around specific predictions. Self-explaining models where interpretability plays a key role already during learning have received much less attention. We propose three desiderata for explanations in general -- explicitness, faithfulness, and stability -- and show that existing methods do not satisfy them. In response, we design self-explaining models in stages, progressively generalizing linear classifiers to complex yet architecturally explicit models. Faithfulness and stability are enforced via regularization specifically tailored to such models. Experimental results across various benchmark datasets show that our framework offers a promising direction for reconciling model complexity and interpretability.

Author Information

David Alvarez-Melis (MIT)
Tommi Jaakkola (MIT)

Tommi Jaakkola is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. He received an M.Sc. degree in theoretical physics from Helsinki University of Technology, and Ph.D. from MIT in computational neuroscience. Following a Sloan postdoctoral fellowship in computational molecular biology, he joined the MIT faculty in 1998. His research interests include statistical inference, graphical models, and large scale modern estimation problems with predominantly incomplete data.

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