Sample based Explanations via Generalized Representers

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Che-Ping Tsai, Chih-Kuan Yeh, Pradeep Ravikumar


We propose a general class of sample based explanations of machine learning models, which we term generalized representers. To measure the effect of a training sample on a model's test prediction, generalized representers use two components: a global sample importance that quantifies the importance of the training point to the model and is invariant to test samples, and a local sample importance that measures similarity between the training sample and the test point with a kernel. A key contribution of the paper is to show that generalized representers are the only class of sample based explanations satisfying a natural set of axiomatic properties. We discuss approaches to extract global importances given a kernel, and also natural choices of kernels given modern non-linear models. As we show, many popular existing sample based explanations could be cast as generalized representers with particular choices of kernels and approaches to extract global importances. Additionally, we conduct empirical comparisons of different generalized representers on two image classification datasets.