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Feature Learning for Interpretable, Performant Decision Trees

Jack Good · Torin Kovach · Kyle Miller · Artur Dubrawski

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1508
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Wed 13 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


Decision trees are regarded for high interpretability arising from their hierarchical partitioning structure built on simple decision rules. However, in practice, this is not realized because axis-aligned partitioning of realistic data results in deep trees, and because ensemble methods are used to mitigate overfitting. Even then, model complexity and performance remain sensitive to transformation of the input, and extensive expert crafting of features from the raw data is common. We propose the first system to alternate sparse feature learning with differentiable decision tree construction to produce small, interpretable trees with good performance. We benchmark against conventional tree-based models and demonstrate several notions of interpretation of a model and its predictions.

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