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Workshop: AI for Science: from Theory to Practice

Bad Exoplanet! Explaining Degraded Performance when Reconstructing Exoplanets Atmospheric Parameters

Alkis Koudounas · Flavio Giobergia · Elena Baralis


Deep learning techniques have been widely adopted to automate the reconstruction of atmospheric parameters in exoplanets, at a fraction of the computational cost required by traditional approaches. However, many of the reconstruction models used are intrinsically non-interpretable. With this work, we aim to produce descriptions for the characteristics of exoplanets that make their atmospheric composition reconstruction problematic. We present a model-agnostic approach to detect biased data subgroups described via atmospheric parameters such as planet distance and surface gravity. We show that adopting an ensemble approach remarkably improves the quality of the outcomes overall, as well as at the subgroup level, on synthetic data simulated for the upcoming Ariel space mission. Experimental results further demonstrate the effectiveness of adopting explanation techniques in identifying and describing significant performance gaps between weak learners and their ensemble. Our work provides a more nuanced description of the results provided by deep learning techniques, to enable more meaningful assessments of what can be reasonably achieved with them.

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