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Workshop: Trustworthy and Socially Responsible Machine Learning

Take 5: Interpretable Image Classification with a Handful of Features

Thomas Norrenbrock · Marco Rudolph · Bodo Rosenhahn


Deep Neural Networks use thousands of mostly incomprehensible features to identify a single class, a decision no human can follow. We propose an interpretable sparse and low dimensional final decision layer in a deep neural network with measurable aspects of interpretability and demonstrate it on fine-grained image classification. We argue that a human can only understand the decision of a machine learning model, if the input features are interpretable and only very few of them are used for a single decision. For that matter, the final layer has to be sparse and – to make interpreting the features feasible – low dimensional. We call a model with a Sparse Low-Dimensional Decision “SLDD-Model”. We show that a SLDD-Model is easier to interpret locally and globally than a dense high-dimensional decision layer while being able to maintain competitive accuracy. Additionally, we propose a loss function that improves a model’s feature diversity and accuracy. Our interpretable SLDD-Model only uses 5 out of just 50 features per class, while maintaining 97% to 100% of the accuracy on four common benchmark datasets compared to the baseline model with 2048 features.

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