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Workshop: XAI in Action: Past, Present, and Future Applications

Are Large Language Models Post Hoc Explainers?

Nicholas Kroeger · Dan Ley · Satyapriya Krishna · Chirag Agarwal · Himabindu Lakkaraju


Large Language Models (LLMs) are increasingly used as powerful tools for a plethora of natural language processing (NLP) applications. A recent innovation, in-context learning (ICL), enables LLMs to learn new tasks by supplying a few examples in the prompt during inference time, thereby eliminating the need for model fine-tuning. While LLMs have been utilized in several applications, their applicability in explaining the behavior of other models remains relatively unexplored. Despite the growing number of new explanation techniques, many require white-box access to the model and/or are computationally expensive, highlighting a need for next-generation post hoc explainers. In this work, we present the first framework to study the effectiveness of LLMs in explaining other predictive models. More specifically, we propose a novel framework encompassing multiple prompting strategies: i) Perturbation-based ICL, ii) Prediction-based ICL, iii) Instruction-based ICL, and iv) Explanation-based ICL, with varying levels of information about the underlying ML model and the local neighborhood of the test sample. We conduct extensive experiments with real-world benchmark datasets to demonstrate that LLM-generated explanations perform on par with state-of-the-art post hoc explainers using their ability to leverage ICL examples and their internal knowledge in generating model explanations. On average, across four datasets and two ML models, we observe that LLMs identify the most important feature with 72.19% accuracy, opening up new frontiers in explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) to explore LLM-based explanation frameworks.

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