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Michael Livanos, Ian Davidson

Deep learning is extensively used in many areas of data mining as a black-box method with impressive results. However, understanding the core mechanism of how deep learning makes predictions is a relatively understudied problem. Here we explore the notion of identifying a backbone of deep learning for a given group of instances. A group here can be instances of the same class or even misclassified instances of the same class. We view each instance for a given group as activating a subset of neurons and attempt to find a subgraph of neurons associated with a given concept/group. We formulate this problem as a set cover style problem and show it is intractable and presents a highly constrained integer linear programming (ILP) formulation. As an alternative, we explore a coverage-based heuristic approach related to pattern mining, and show it converges to a Pareto equilibrium point of the ILP formulation. Experimentally we explore these backbones to identify mistakes and improve performance, explanation, and visualization. We demonstrate application-based results using several challenging data sets, including Bird Audio Detection (BAD) Challenge and Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW), as well as the classic MNIST data.

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Michael Livanos, Ian Davidson, Stephen Wong

Knowledge distillation is a simple but powerful way to transfer knowledge between a teacher model to a student model. Existing work suffers from at least one of the following key limitations in terms of direction and scope of transfer which restrict its use: all knowledge is transferred from teacher to student regardless of whether or not that knowledge is useful, the student is the only one learning in this exchange, and typically distillation transfers knowledge only from a single teacher to a single student. We formulate a novel form of knowledge distillation in which many models can act as both students and teachers which we call cooperative distillation. The models cooperate as follows: a model (the student) identifies specific deficiencies in it's performance and searches for another model (the teacher) who encodes learned knowledge into instructional virtual instances via counterfactual instance generation. Because different models may have different strengths and weaknesses, all models can act as either students or teachers (cooperation) when appropriate and only distill knowledge in areas specific to their strengths (focus). Since counterfactuals as a paradigm are not tied to any specific algorithm, we can use this method to distill knowledge between learners of different architectures, algorithms, and even feature spaces. We demonstrate that our approach not only outperforms baselines such as transfer learning, self-supervised learning, and multiple knowledge distillation algorithms on several datasets, but it can also be used in settings where the aforementioned techniques cannot.

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Ji Wang, Ding Lu, Zhaojun Bai, Ian Davidson

There are synergies of research interests and industrial efforts in modeling fairness and correcting algorithmic bias in machine learning. In this paper, we present a scalable algorithm for spectral clustering (SC) with group fairness constraints. Group fairness is also known as statistical parity where in each cluster, each protected group is represented with the same proportion as in the entirety. While FairSC algorithm (Kleindessner et al., 2019) is able to find the fairer clustering, it is compromised by high costs due to the kernels of computing nullspaces and the square roots of dense matrices explicitly. We present a new formulation of underlying spectral computation by incorporating nullspace projection and Hotelling's deflation such that the resulting algorithm, called s-FairSC, only involves the sparse matrix-vector products and is able to fully exploit the sparsity of the fair SC model. The experimental results on the modified stochastic block model demonstrate that s-FairSC is comparable with FairSC in recovering fair clustering. Meanwhile, it is sped up by a factor of 12 for moderate model sizes. s-FairSC is further demonstrated to be scalable in the sense that the computational costs of s-FairSC only increase marginally compared to the SC without fairness constraints.

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Ian Davidson, S. S. Ravi

Existing work on fairness typically focuses on making known machine learning algorithms fairer. Fair variants of classification, clustering, outlier detection and other styles of algorithms exist. However, an understudied area is the topic of auditing an algorithm's output to determine fairness. Existing work has explored the two group classification problem for binary protected status variables using standard definitions of statistical parity. Here we build upon the area of auditing by exploring the multi-group setting under more complex definitions of fairness.

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Ian Davidson, Michael Livanos, Antoine Gourru, Peter Walker, Julien Velcin, S. S. Ravi

Explainable AI (XAI) is an important developing area but remains relatively understudied for clustering. We propose an explainable-by-design clustering approach that not only finds clusters but also exemplars to explain each cluster. The use of exemplars for understanding is supported by the exemplar-based school of concept definition in psychology. We show that finding a small set of exemplars to explain even a single cluster is computationally intractable; hence, the overall problem is challenging. We develop an approximation algorithm that provides provable performance guarantees with respect to clustering quality as well as the number of exemplars used. This basic algorithm explains all the instances in every cluster whilst another approximation algorithm uses a bounded number of exemplars to allow simpler explanations and provably covers a large fraction of all the instances. Experimental results show that our work is useful in domains involving difficult to understand deep embeddings of images and text.

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Hongjing Zhang, Ian Davidson

Deep clustering has the potential to learn a strong representation and hence better clustering performance compared to traditional clustering methods such as $k$-means and spectral clustering. However, this strong representation learning ability may make the clustering unfair by discovering surrogates for protected information which we empirically show in our experiments. In this work, we study a general notion of group-level fairness for both binary and multi-state protected status variables (PSVs). We begin by formulating the group-level fairness problem as an integer linear programming formulation whose totally unimodular constraint matrix means it can be efficiently solved via linear programming. We then show how to inject this solver into a discriminative deep clustering backbone and hence propose a refinement learning algorithm to combine the clustering goal with the fairness objective to learn fair clusters adaptively. Experimental results on real-world datasets demonstrate that our model consistently outperforms state-of-the-art fair clustering algorithms. Our framework shows promising results for novel clustering tasks including flexible fairness constraints, multi-state PSVs and predictive clustering.

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Hongjing Zhang, Ian Davidson

Recent work on explainable clustering allows describing clusters when the features are interpretable. However, much modern machine learning focuses on complex data such as images, text, and graphs where deep learning is used but the raw features of data are not interpretable. This paper explores a novel setting for performing clustering on complex data while simultaneously generating explanations using interpretable tags. We propose deep descriptive clustering that performs sub-symbolic representation learning on complex data while generating explanations based on symbolic data. We form good clusters by maximizing the mutual information between empirical distribution on the inputs and the induced clustering labels for clustering objectives. We generate explanations by solving an integer linear programming that generates concise and orthogonal descriptions for each cluster. Finally, we allow the explanation to inform better clustering by proposing a novel pairwise loss with self-generated constraints to maximize the clustering and explanation module's consistency. Experimental results on public data demonstrate that our model outperforms competitive baselines in clustering performance while offering high-quality cluster-level explanations.

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Hongjing Zhang, Tianyang Zhan, Sugato Basu, Ian Davidson

The area of constrained clustering has been extensively explored by researchers and used by practitioners. Constrained clustering formulations exist for popular algorithms such as k-means, mixture models, and spectral clustering but have several limitations. A fundamental strength of deep learning is its flexibility, and here we explore a deep learning framework for constrained clustering and in particular explore how it can extend the field of constrained clustering. We show that our framework can not only handle standard together/apart constraints (without the well documented negative effects reported earlier) generated from labeled side information but more complex constraints generated from new types of side information such as continuous values and high-level domain knowledge. Furthermore, we propose an efficient training paradigm that is generally applicable to these four types of constraints. We validate the effectiveness of our approach by empirical results on both image and text datasets. We also study the robustness of our framework when learning with noisy constraints and show how different components of our framework contribute to the final performance. Our source code is available at $\href{https://github.com/blueocean92/deep_constrained_clustering}{\text{URL}}$.

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Hongjing Zhang, Ian Davidson

Anomaly detection aims to find instances that are considered unusual and is a fundamental problem of data science. Recently, deep anomaly detection methods were shown to achieve superior results particularly in complex data such as images. Our work focuses on deep one-class classification for anomaly detection which learns a mapping only from the normal samples. However, the non-linear transformation performed by deep learning can potentially find patterns associated with social bias. The challenge with adding fairness to deep anomaly detection is to ensure both making fair and correct anomaly predictions simultaneously. In this paper, we propose a new architecture for the fair anomaly detection approach (Deep Fair SVDD) and train it using an adversarial network to de-correlate the relationships between the sensitive attributes and the learned representations. This differs from how fairness is typically added namely as a regularizer or a constraint. Further, we propose two effective fairness measures and empirically demonstrate that existing deep anomaly detection methods are unfair. We show that our proposed approach can remove the unfairness largely with minimal loss on the anomaly detection performance. Lastly, we conduct an in-depth analysis to show the strength and limitations of our proposed model, including parameter analysis, feature visualization, and run-time analysis.

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Zilong Bai, Hoa Nguyen, Ian Davidson

Feature selection is a core area of data mining with a recent innovation of graph-driven unsupervised feature selection for linked data. In this setting we have a dataset $\mathbf{Y}$ consisting of $n$ instances each with $m$ features and a corresponding $n$ node graph (whose adjacency matrix is $\mathbf{A}$) with an edge indicating that the two instances are similar. Existing efforts for unsupervised feature selection on attributed networks have explored either directly regenerating the links by solving for $f$ such that $f(\mathbf{y}_i,\mathbf{y}_j) \approx \mathbf{A}_{i,j}$ or finding community structure in $\mathbf{A}$ and using the features in $\mathbf{Y}$ to predict these communities. However, graph-driven unsupervised feature selection remains an understudied area with respect to exploring more complex guidance. Here we take the novel approach of first building a block model on the graph and then using the block model for feature selection. That is, we discover $\mathbf{F}\mathbf{M}\mathbf{F}^T \approx \mathbf{A}$ and then find a subset of features $\mathcal{S}$ that induces another graph to preserve both $\mathbf{F}$ and $\mathbf{M}$. We call our approach Block Model Guided Unsupervised Feature Selection (BMGUFS). Experimental results show that our method outperforms the state of the art on several real-world public datasets in finding high-quality features for clustering.

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