skip to main content


Title: Symbolic Metamodels for Interpreting Black-Boxes Using Primitive Functions
One approach for interpreting black-box machine learning models is to find a global approximation of the model using simple interpretable functions, which is called a metamodel (a model of the model). Approximating the black-box witha metamodel can be used to 1) estimate instance-wise feature importance; 2) understand the functional form of the model; 3) analyze feature interactions. In this work, we propose a new method for finding interpretable metamodels. Our approach utilizes Kolmogorov superposition theorem, which expresses multivariate functions as a composition of univariate functions (our primitive parameterizedfunctions). This composition can be represented in the form of a tree. Inspired by symbolic regression, we use a modified form of genetic programming to search over different tree configurations. Gradient descent (GD) is used to optimize the parameters of a given configuration. Our method is a novel memetic algorithm that uses GD not only for training numerical constants but also for the trainingof building blocks. Using several experiments, we show that our method outperforms recent metamodeling approaches suggested for interpreting black-boxes.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2301599 2301601
NSF-PAR ID:
10447881
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Volume:
37
Issue:
6
ISSN:
2159-5399
Page Range / eLocation ID:
6649 to 6657
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background

    Advanced machine learning models have received wide attention in assisting medical decision making due to the greater accuracy they can achieve. However, their limited interpretability imposes barriers for practitioners to adopt them. Recent advancements in interpretable machine learning tools allow us to look inside the black box of advanced prediction methods to extract interpretable models while maintaining similar prediction accuracy, but few studies have investigated the specific hospital readmission prediction problem with this spirit.

    Methods

    Our goal is to develop a machine-learning (ML) algorithm that can predict 30- and 90- day hospital readmissions as accurately as black box algorithms while providing medically interpretable insights into readmission risk factors. Leveraging a state-of-art interpretable ML model, we use a two-step Extracted Regression Tree approach to achieve this goal. In the first step, we train a black box prediction algorithm. In the second step, we extract a regression tree from the output of the black box algorithm that allows direct interpretation of medically relevant risk factors. We use data from a large teaching hospital in Asia to learn the ML model and verify our two-step approach.

    Results

    The two-step method can obtain similar prediction performance as the best black box model, such as Neural Networks, measured by three metrics: accuracy, the Area Under the Curve (AUC) and the Area Under the Precision-Recall Curve (AUPRC), while maintaining interpretability. Further, to examine whether the prediction results match the known medical insights (i.e., the model is truly interpretable and produces reasonable results), we show that key readmission risk factors extracted by the two-step approach are consistent with those found in the medical literature.

    Conclusions

    The proposed two-step approach yields meaningful prediction results that are both accurate and interpretable. This study suggests a viable means to improve the trust of machine learning based models in clinical practice for predicting readmissions through the two-step approach.

     
    more » « less
  2. Concept Bottleneck Models (CBM) are inherently interpretable models that factor model decisions into human-readable concepts. They allow people to easily understand why a model is failing, a critical feature for high-stakes applications. CBMs require manually specified concepts and often under-perform their black box counterparts, preventing their broad adoption. We address these shortcomings and are first to show how to construct high-performance CBMs without manual specification of similar accuracy to black box models. Our approach, Language Guided Bottlenecks (LaBo), leverages a language model, GPT-3, to define a large space of possible bottlenecks. Given a problem domain, LaBo uses GPT-3 to produce factual sentences about categories to form candidate concepts. LaBo efficiently searches possible bottlenecks through a novel submodular utility that promotes the selection of discriminative and diverse information. Ultimately, GPT-3's sentential concepts can be aligned to images using CLIP, to form a bottleneck layer. Experiments demonstrate that LaBo is a highly effective prior for concepts important to visual recognition. In the evaluation with 11 diverse datasets, LaBo bottlenecks excel at few-shot classification: they are 11.7% more accurate than black box linear probes at 1 shot and comparable with more data. Overall, LaBo demonstrates that inherently interpretable models can be widely applied at similar, or better, performance than black box approaches. 
    more » « less
  3. This paper develops a new approach for estimating an interpretable, relational model of a black-box autonomous agent that can plan and act. Our main contributions are a new paradigm for estimating such models using a rudimentary query interface with the agent and a hierarchical querying algorithm that generates an interrogation policy for estimating the agent's internal model in a user-interpretable vocabulary. Empirical evaluation of our approach shows that despite the intractable search space of possible agent models, our approach allows correct and scalable estimation of interpretable agent models for a wide class of black-box autonomous agents. Our results also show that this approach can use predicate classifiers to learn interpretable models of planning agents that represent states as images. 
    more » « less
  4. Sparse decision tree optimization has been one of the most fundamental problems in AI since its inception and is a challenge at the core of interpretable machine learning. Sparse decision tree optimization is computationally hard, and despite steady effort since the 1960's, breakthroughs have been made on the problem only within the past few years, primarily on the problem of finding optimal sparse decision trees. However, current state-of-the-art algorithms often require impractical amounts of computation time and memory to find optimal or near-optimal trees for some real-world datasets, particularly those having several continuous-valued features. Given that the search spaces of these decision tree optimization problems are massive, can we practically hope to find a sparse decision tree that competes in accuracy with a black box machine learning model? We address this problem via smart guessing strategies that can be applied to any optimal branch-and-bound-based decision tree algorithm. The guesses come from knowledge gleaned from black box models. We show that by using these guesses, we can reduce the run time by multiple orders of magnitude while providing bounds on how far the resulting trees can deviate from the black box's accuracy and expressive power. Our approach enables guesses about how to bin continuous features, the size of the tree, and lower bounds on the error for the optimal decision tree. Our experiments show that in many cases we can rapidly construct sparse decision trees that match the accuracy of black box models. To summarize: when you are having trouble optimizing, just guess. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    With the increasing adoption of predictive models trained using machine learning across a wide range of high-stakes applications, e.g., health care, security, criminal justice, finance, and education, there is a growing need for effective techniques for explaining such models and their predictions. We aim to address this problem in settings where the predictive model is a black box; That is, we can only observe the response of the model to various inputs, but have no knowledge about the internal structure of the predictive model, its parameters, the objective function, and the algorithm used to optimize the model. We reduce the problem of interpreting a black box predictive model to that of estimating the causal effects of each of the model inputs on the model output, from observations of the model inputs and the corresponding outputs. We estimate the causal effects of model inputs on model output using variants of the Rubin Neyman potential outcomes framework for estimating causal effects from observational data. We show how the resulting causal attribution of responsibility for model output to the different model inputs can be used to interpret the predictive model and to explain its predictions. We present results of experiments that demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach to the interpretation of black box predictive models via causal attribution in the case of deep neural network models trained on one synthetic data set (where the input variables that impact the output variable are known by design) and two real-world data sets: Handwritten digit classification, and Parkinson's disease severity prediction. Because our approach does not require knowledge about the predictive model algorithm and is free of assumptions regarding the black box predictive model except that its input-output responses be observable, it can be applied, in principle, to any black box predictive model. 
    more » « less