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A Path to Simpler Models Starts With Noise

Lesia Semenova · Harry Chen · Ronald Parr · Cynthia Rudin

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1513
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[ Paper [ Slides [ Poster [ OpenReview
Tue 12 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


The Rashomon set is the set of models that perform approximately equally well on a given dataset, and the Rashomon ratio is the fraction of all models in a given hypothesis space that are in the Rashomon set. Rashomon ratios are often large for tabular datasets in criminal justice, healthcare, lending, education, and in other areas, which has practical implications about whether simpler models can attain the same level of accuracy as more complex models. An open question is why Rashomon ratios often tend to be large. In this work, we propose and study a mechanism of the data generation process, coupled with choices usually made by the analyst during the learning process, that determines the size of the Rashomon ratio. Specifically, we demonstrate that noisier datasets lead to larger Rashomon ratios through the way that practitioners train models. Additionally, we introduce a measure called pattern diversity, which captures the average difference in predictions between distinct classification patterns in the Rashomon set, and motivate why it tends to increase with label noise. Our results explain a key aspect of why simpler models often tend to perform as well as black box models on complex, noisier datasets.

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