Julie Shah


The Solvability of Interpretability Evaluation Metrics
Yilun Zhou | Julie Shah
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Feature attribution methods are popular for explaining neural network predictions, and they are often evaluated on metrics such as comprehensiveness and sufficiency. In this paper, we highlight an intriguing property of these metrics: their solvability. Concretely, we can define the problem of optimizing an explanation for a metric, which can be solved by beam search. This observation leads to the obvious yet unaddressed question: why do we use explainers (e.g., LIME) not based on solving the target metric, if the metric value represents explanation quality? We present a series of investigations showing strong performance of this beam search explainer and discuss its broader implication: a definition-evaluation duality of interpretability concepts. We implement the explainer and release the Python solvex package for models of text, image and tabular domains.


ExSum: From Local Explanations to Model Understanding
Yilun Zhou | Marco Tulio Ribeiro | Julie Shah
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Interpretability methods are developed to understand the working mechanisms of black-box models, which is crucial to their responsible deployment. Fulfilling this goal requires both that the explanations generated by these methods are correct and that people can easily and reliably understand them. While the former has been addressed in prior work, the latter is often overlooked, resulting in informal model understanding derived from a handful of local explanations. In this paper, we introduce explanation summary (ExSum), a mathematical framework for quantifying model understanding, and propose metrics for its quality assessment. On two domains, ExSum highlights various limitations in the current practice, helps develop accurate model understanding, and reveals easily overlooked properties of the model. We also connect understandability to other properties of explanations such as human alignment, robustness, and counterfactual similarity and plausibility.

When Does Syntax Mediate Neural Language Model Performance? Evidence from Dropout Probes
Mycal Tucker | Tiwalayo Eisape | Peng Qian | Roger Levy | Julie Shah
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent causal probing literature reveals when language models and syntactic probes use similar representations. Such techniques may yield “false negative” causality results: models may use representations of syntax, but probes may have learned to use redundant encodings of the same syntactic information. We demonstrate that models do encode syntactic information redundantly and introduce a new probe design that guides probes to consider all syntactic information present in embeddings. Using these probes, we find evidence for the use of syntax in models where prior methods did not, allowing us to boost model performance by injecting syntactic information into representations.

The Irrationality of Neural Rationale Models
Yiming Zheng | Serena Booth | Julie Shah | Yilun Zhou
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Trustworthy Natural Language Processing (TrustNLP 2022)

Neural rationale models are popular for interpretable predictions of NLP tasks. In these, a selector extracts segments of the input text, called rationales, and passes these segments to a classifier for prediction. Since the rationale is the only information accessible to the classifier, it is plausibly defined as the explanation. Is such a characterization unconditionally correct? In this paper, we argue to the contrary, with both philosophical perspectives and empirical evidence suggesting that rationale models are, perhaps, less rational and interpretable than expected. We call for more rigorous evaluations of these models to ensure desired properties of interpretability are indeed achieved. The code for our experiments is at https://github.com/yimingz89/Neural-Rationale-Analysis.


Learning Household Task Knowledge from WikiHow Descriptions
Yilun Zhou | Julie Shah | Steven Schockaert
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Semantic Deep Learning (SemDeep-5)