Workshop: Human in the Loop Learning (HiLL) Workshop at NeurIPS 2022

Feasible and Desirable Counterfactual Generation by Preserving Human Defined Constraints

Homayun Afrabandpey · Michael Spranger


We present a human-in-the-loop approach to generate counterfactual (CF) explanations that preserve global and local feasibility constraints. Global feasibility constraints refer to the causal constraints necessary for generating actionable CF explanation. Assuming a domain expert with knowledge on unary and binary causal constraints, our approach efficiently employs this knowledge to generate CF explanation by rejecting gradient steps that violate these constraints. Local feasibility constraints are user-level constraints necessary for generating desirable CF explanation. We extract these constraints from the end-user of the model and exploit them during CF generation via user-defined distance metric. Through user studies, we demonstrate that incorporating causal constraints during CF generation results in significantly better explanations in terms of feasibility and desirability for participants. Adopting local and global feasibility constraints simultaneously, although improves user satisfaction, does not significantly improves desirability of the participants compared to only incorporating global constraints.

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