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A Visual Analytics Conceptual Framework for Explorable and Steerable Partial Dependence Analysis (01a Articolo in rivista)

Angelini Marco, Blasilli Graziano, Lenti Simone, Santucci Giuseppe

Machine learning techniques are a driving force for research in various fields, from credit card fraud detection to stock analysis. Recently, a growing interest in increasing human involvement has emerged, with the primary goal of improving the interpretability of machine learning models. Among different techniques, Partial Dependence Plots (PDP) represent one of the main model-agnostic approaches for interpreting how the features influence the prediction of a machine learning model. However, its limitations (i.e., visual interpretation, aggregation of heterogeneous effects, inaccuracy, and computability) could complicate or misdirect the analysis. Moreover, the resulting combinatorial space can be challenging to explore both computationally and cognitively when analyzing the effects of more features at the same time. This paper proposes a conceptual framework that enables effective analysis workflows, mitigating state-of-the-art limitations. The proposed framework allows for exploring and refining computed partial dependences, observing incrementally accurate results, and steering the computation of new partial dependences on user-selected subspaces of the combinatorial and intractable space. With this approach, the user can save both computational and cognitive costs, in contrast with the standard monolithic approach that computes all the possible combinations of features on all their domains in batch. The framework is the result of a careful design process involving experts' knowledge during its validation and informed the development of a prototype, W4SP (available at https://aware-diag-sapienza.github.io/W4SP/), that demonstrates its applicability traversing its different paths. A case study shows the advantages of the proposed approach.
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