Towards Robust Interpretability with Self-Explaining Neural Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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David Alvarez Melis, Tommi Jaakkola


Most recent work on interpretability of complex machine learning models has focused on estimating a-posteriori explanations for previously trained models around specific predictions. Self-explaining models where interpretability plays a key role already during learning have received much less attention. We propose three desiderata for explanations in general -- explicitness, faithfulness, and stability -- and show that existing methods do not satisfy them. In response, we design self-explaining models in stages, progressively generalizing linear classifiers to complex yet architecturally explicit models. Faithfulness and stability are enforced via regularization specifically tailored to such models. Experimental results across various benchmark datasets show that our framework offers a promising direction for reconciling model complexity and interpretability.