Making machine learning models interpretable

Data of different levels of complexity and of ever growing diversity of characteristics are the raw materials that machine learning practitioners try to model using their wide palette of methods and tools. The obtained models are meant to be a synthetic representation of the available, observed data that captures some of their intrinsic regularities or patterns. Therefore, the use of machine learning techniques for data analysis can be understood as a problem of pattern recognition or, more informally, of knowledge discovery and data mining. There exists a gap, though, between data modeling and knowledge extraction. Models, depending on the machine learning techniques employed, can be described in diverse ways but, in order to consider that some knowledge has been achieved from their description, we must take into account the human cognitive factor that any knowledge extraction process entails. These models as such can be rendered powerless unless they can be interpreted, andthe process of human interpretation follows rules that go well beyond technical prowess. For this reason, interpretability is a paramount quality that machine learning methods should aim to achieve if they are to be applied in practice. This paper is a brief introduction to the special session on interpretable models in machine learning, organized as part of the 20 th European Symposium on Artificial Neural Networks, Computational Intelligence and Machine Learning. It includes a discussion on the several works accepted for the session, with an overview of the context of wider research on interpretability of machine learning models.

Vellido, Alfredo, José D. Martín-Guerrero, and Paulo J. G. Lisboa. 2012. “Making machine learning models interpretable.” In ESANN 2012 proceedings, 163–72. Bruges, Belgium.

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