Improving the Interpretability of Deep Neural Networks with Knowledge Distillation

28 Dec 2018  ·  Xuan Liu, Xiaoguang Wang, Stan Matwin ·

Deep Neural Networks have achieved huge success at a wide spectrum of applications from language modeling, computer vision to speech recognition. However, nowadays, good performance alone is not sufficient to satisfy the needs of practical deployment where interpretability is demanded for cases involving ethics and mission critical applications. The complex models of Deep Neural Networks make it hard to understand and reason the predictions, which hinders its further progress. To tackle this problem, we apply the Knowledge Distillation technique to distill Deep Neural Networks into decision trees in order to attain good performance and interpretability simultaneously. We formulate the problem at hand as a multi-output regression problem and the experiments demonstrate that the student model achieves significantly better accuracy performance (about 1\% to 5\%) than vanilla decision trees at the same level of tree depth. The experiments are implemented on the TensorFlow platform to make it scalable to big datasets. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to distill Deep Neural Networks into vanilla decision trees on multi-class datasets.

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