GRAND-SLAMIN’ Interpretable Additive Modeling with Structural Constraints

Shibal Ibrahim · Gabriel Afriat · Kayhan Behdin · Rahul Mazumder

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1512
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Wed 13 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST

Abstract: Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) are a family of flexible and interpretable models with old roots in statistics. GAMs are often used with pairwise interactions to improve model accuracy while still retaining flexibility and interpretability but lead to computational challenges as we are dealing with order of $p^2$ terms. It is desirable to restrict the number of components (i.e., encourage sparsity) for easier interpretability, and better computational and statistical properties. Earlier approaches, considering sparse pairwise interactions, have limited scalability, especially when imposing additional structural interpretability constraints. We propose a flexible GRAND-SLAMIN framework that can learn GAMs with interactions under sparsity and additional structural constraints in a differentiable end-to-end fashion. We customize first-order gradient-based optimization to perform sparse backpropagation to exploit sparsity in additive effects for any differentiable loss function in a GPU-compatible manner. Additionally, we establish novel non-asymptotic prediction bounds for our estimators with tree-based shape functions. Numerical experiments on real-world datasets show that our toolkit performs favorably in terms of performance, variable selection and scalability when compared with popular toolkits to fit GAMs with interactions. Our work expands the landscape of interpretable modeling while maintaining prediction accuracy competitive with non-interpretable black-box models. Our code is available at

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