How Important Is a Neuron?

30 May 2018  ·  Kedar Dhamdhere, Mukund Sundararajan, Qiqi Yan ·

The problem of attributing a deep network's prediction to its \emph{input/base} features is well-studied. We introduce the notion of \emph{conductance} to extend the notion of attribution to the understanding the importance of \emph{hidden} units. Informally, the conductance of a hidden unit of a deep network is the \emph{flow} of attribution via this hidden unit. We use conductance to understand the importance of a hidden unit to the prediction for a specific input, or over a set of inputs. We evaluate the effectiveness of conductance in multiple ways, including theoretical properties, ablation studies, and a feature selection task. The empirical evaluations are done using the Inception network over ImageNet data, and a sentiment analysis network over reviews. In both cases, we demonstrate the effectiveness of conductance in identifying interesting insights about the internal workings of these networks.

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