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Structural Causal Interpretation Theorem

Matej Zecevic; Devendra Singh Dhami; Constantin A. Rothkopf; Kristian Kersting
In: Computing Research Repository eprint Journal (CoRR), Vol. abs/2110.02395, Pages 0-10, arXiv, 2021.


In explanatory interactive learning (XIL) the user queries the learner, then the learner explains its answer to the user and finally the loop repeats. XIL is attractive for two reasons, (1) the learner becomes better and (2) the user's trust increases. For both reasons to hold, the learner's explanations must be useful to the user and the user must be allowed to ask useful questions. Ideally, both questions and explanations should be grounded in a causal model since they avoid spurious fallacies. Ultimately, we seem to seek a causal variant of XIL. The question part on the user's end we believe to be solved since the user's mental model can provide the causal model. But how would the learner provide causal explanations? In this work we show that existing explanation methods are not guaranteed to be causal even when provided with a Structural Causal Model (SCM). Specifically, we use the popular, proclaimed causal explanation method CXPlain to illustrate how the generated explanations leave open the question of truly causal explanations. Thus as a step towards causal XIL, we propose a solution to the lack of causal explanations. We solve this problem by deriving from first principles an explanation method that makes full use of a given SCM, which we refer to as SC$textbfE$ ($textbfE$ standing for explanation). Since SCEs make use of structural information, any causal graph learner can now provide human-readable explanations. We conduct several experiments including a user study with 22 participants to investigate the virtue of SCE as causal explanations of SCMs.

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