“Why Not Other Classes?”: Towards Class-Contrastive Back-Propagation Explanations

Yipei Wang · Xiaoqian Wang

Hall J #706

Keywords: [ Explainable Artificial Intelligence ] [ contrastive explanations ] [ attribution explanations ]


Numerous methods have been developed to explain the inner mechanism of deep neural network (DNN) based classifiers. Existing explanation methods are often limited to explaining predictions of a pre-specified class, which answers the question “why is the input classified into this class?” However, such explanations with respect to a single class are inherently insufficient because they do not capture features with class-discriminative power. That is, features that are important for predicting one class may also be important for other classes. To capture features with true class-discriminative power, we should instead ask “why is the input classified into this class, but not others?” To answer this question, we propose a weighted contrastive framework for explaining DNNs. Our framework can easily convert any existing back-propagation explanation methods to build class-contrastive explanations. We theoretically validate our weighted contrast explanation in general back-propagation explanations, and show that our framework enables class-contrastive explanations with significant improvements in both qualitative and quantitative experiments. Based on the results, we point out an important blind spot in the current explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) study, where explanations towards the predicted logits and the probabilities are obfuscated. We suggest that these two aspects should be distinguished explicitly any time explanation methods are applied.

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