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Machine Learning Explainability


Machine learning models require care, attention and a fair amount of tuning to offer accurate, consistent and robust predictive modelling of data. Why should their transparency and explainability be any different? While it is possible to easily generate explanatory insights with methods that are post-hoc and model-agnostic -- LIME and SHAP, for example -- these can be misleading when output by generic tools and viewed out of (technical or domain) context. Explanations should not be taken at their face value; instead their understanding ought to come from interpreting explanatory insights in view of the implicit caveats and limitations under which they were generated. After all, explainability algorithms are complex entities often built from multiple components that are subject to parameterisation choices and operational assumptions, all of which must be accounted for and configured to yield a truthful and useful explainer. Additionally, since any particular method may only provide partial information about the functioning of a predictive model, embracing diverse insights and appreciating their complementarity -- as well as disagreements -- can further enhance understanding of an algorithmic decision-making process.


This course takes an adversarial perspective on artificial intelligence explainability and machine learning interpretability. Instead of reviewing popular approaches used to these ends, it breaks them up into core functional blocks, studies the role and configuration thereof, and reassembles them to create bespoke, well-understood explainers suitable for the problem at hand. The course focuses predominantly on tabular data, with some excursions into image and text explainability whenever a method is agnostic of the data type. 

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

The tuition is complemented by a series of hands-on materials for self-study, which allow you to experiment with these techniques and appreciate their inherent complexity, capabilities and limitations.

Examination information

The assignment, on the other hand, requires you to develop a tailor-made explainability suite for a data set and predictive model of your choice, or alternatively analyse an explainability algorithm to identify its core algorithmic building blocks and explore how they affect the resulting explanation. (Note that there is a scope for a bespoke project if you have a well-defined idea in mind.)