DISCOVER: Making Vision Networks Interpretable via Competition and Dissection

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

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Konstantinos Panousis, Sotirios Chatzis


Modern deep networks are highly complex and their inferential outcome very hard to interpret. This is a serious obstacle to their transparent deployment in safety-critical or bias-aware applications. This work contributes to *post-hoc* interpretability, and specifically Network Dissection. Our goal is to present a framework that makes it easier to *discover* the individual functionality of each neuron in a network trained on a vision task; discovery is performed in terms of textual description generation. To achieve this objective, we leverage: (i) recent advances in multimodal vision-text models and (ii) network layers founded upon the novel concept of stochastic local competition between linear units. In this setting, only a *small subset* of layer neurons are activated *for a given input*, leading to extremely high activation sparsity (as low as only $\approx 4\%$). Crucially, our proposed method infers (sparse) neuron activation patterns that enables the neurons to activate/specialize to inputs with specific characteristics, diversifying their individual functionality. This capacity of our method supercharges the potential of dissection processes: human understandable descriptions are generated only for the very few active neurons, thus facilitating the direct investigation of the network's decision process. As we experimentally show, our approach: (i) yields Vision Networks that retain or improve classification performance, and (ii) realizes a principled framework for text-based description and examination of the generated neuronal representations.