KDD 2021
Conference paper

Leveraging Latent Features for Local Explanations

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As the application of deep neural networks proliferates in numerous areas such as medical imaging, video surveillance, and self driving cars, the need for explaining the decisions of these models has become a hot research topic, both at the global and local level. Locally, most explanation methods have focused on identifying relevance of features, limiting the types of explanations possible. In this paper, we investigate a new direction by leveraging latent features to generate contrastive explanations; predictions are explained not only by highlighting aspects that are in themselves sufficient to justify the classification, but also by new aspects which if added will change the classification. The key contribution of this paper lies in how we add features to rich data in a formal yet humanly interpretable way that leads to meaningful results. Our new definition of "addition" uses latent features to move beyond the limitations of previous explanations and resolve an open question laid out in Dhurandhar, et. al. (2018), which creates local contrastive explanations but is limited to simple datasets such as grayscale images. The strength of our approach in creating intuitive explanations that are also quantitatively superior to other methods is demonstrated on three diverse image datasets (skin lesions, faces, and fashion apparel). A user study with 200 participants further exemplifies the benefits of contrastive information, which can be viewed as complementary to other state-of-the-art interpretability methods.