The Solvability of Interpretability Evaluation Metrics

18 May 2022  ·  Yilun Zhou, Julie Shah ·

Feature attribution methods are popular for explaining neural network predictions, and they are often evaluated on metrics such as comprehensiveness and sufficiency, which are motivated by the principle that more important features -- as judged by the explanation -- should have larger impacts on model prediction. In this paper, we highlight an intriguing property of these metrics: their solvability. Concretely, we can define the problem of optimizing an explanation for a metric and solve it using beam search. This brings up the obvious question: given such solvability, why do we still develop other explainers and then evaluate them on the metric? We present a series of investigations showing that this beam search explainer is generally comparable or favorable to current choices such as LIME and SHAP, suggest rethinking the goals of model interpretability, and identify several directions towards better evaluations of new method proposals.

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