Learning with Explanation Constraints

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Rattana Pukdee, Dylan Sam, J. Zico Kolter, Maria-Florina F. Balcan, Pradeep Ravikumar


As larger deep learning models are hard to interpret, there has been a recent focus on generating explanations of these black-box models. In contrast, we may have apriori explanations of how models should behave. In this paper, we formalize this notion as learning from explanation constraints and provide a learning theoretic framework to analyze how such explanations can improve the learning of our models. One may naturally ask, "When would these explanations be helpful?"Our first key contribution addresses this question via a class of models that satisfies these explanation constraints in expectation over new data. We provide a characterization of the benefits of these models (in terms of the reduction of their Rademacher complexities) for a canonical class of explanations given by gradient information in the settings of both linear models and two layer neural networks. In addition, we provide an algorithmic solution for our framework, via a variational approximation that achieves better performance and satisfies these constraints more frequently, when compared to simpler augmented Lagrangian methods to incorporate these explanations. We demonstrate the benefits of our approach over a large array of synthetic and real-world experiments.