How to Explain Individual Classification Decisions

David Baehrens, Timon Schroeter, Stefan Harmeling, Motoaki Kawanabe, Katja Hansen, Klaus-Robert Müller.

Year: 2010, Volume: 11, Issue: 61, Pages: 1803−1831


After building a classifier with modern tools of machine learning we typically have a black box at hand that is able to predict well for unseen data. Thus, we get an answer to the question what is the most likely label of a given unseen data point. However, most methods will provide no answer why the model predicted a particular label for a single instance and what features were most influential for that particular instance. The only method that is currently able to provide such explanations are decision trees. This paper proposes a procedure which (based on a set of assumptions) allows to explain the decisions of any classification method.