Jonathan Crabbe, Zhaozhi Qian, Fergus Imrie, Mihaela van der Schaar
Modern machine learning models are complicated. Most of them rely on convoluted latent representations of their input to issue a prediction. To achieve greater transparency than a black-box that connects inputs to predictions, it is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of these latent representations. To that aim, we propose SimplEx: a user-centred method that provides example-based explanations with reference to a freely selected set of examples, called the corpus. SimplEx uses the corpus to improve the user’s understanding of the latent space with post-hoc explanations answering two questions: (1) Which corpus examples explain the prediction issued for a given test example? (2) What features of these corpus examples are relevant for the model to relate them to the test example? SimplEx provides an answer by reconstructing the test latent representation as a mixture of corpus latent representations. Further, we propose a novel approach, the integrated Jacobian, that allows SimplEx to make explicit the contribution of each corpus feature in the mixture. Through experiments on tasks ranging from mortality prediction to image classification, we demonstrate that these decompositions are robust and accurate. With illustrative use cases in medicine, we show that SimplEx empowers the user by highlighting relevant patterns in the corpus that explain model representations. Moreover, we demonstrate how the freedom in choosing the corpus allows the user to have personalized explanations in terms of examples that are meaningful for them.