A Coverage-Based Utility Model for Identifying Unknown Unknowns


A classifier’s low confidence in prediction is often indicative of whether its prediction will be wrong; in this case, inputs are called known unknowns. In contrast, unknown unknowns (UUs) are inputs on which a classifier makes a high confidence mistake. Identifying UUs is especially important in safety-critical domains like medicine (diagnosis) and law (recidivism prediction). Previous work by Lakkaraju et al. (2017) on identifying unknown unknowns assumes that the utility of each revealed UU is independent of the others, rather than considering the set holistically. While this assumption yields an efficient discovery algorithm, we argue that it produces an incomplete understanding of the classifier’s limitations. In response, this paper proposes a new class of utility models that rewards how well the discovered UUs cover (or “explain”) a sample distribution of expected queries. Although choosing an optimal cover is intractable, even if the UUs were known, our utility model is monotone submodular, affording a greedy discovery strategy. Experimental results on four datasets show that our method outperforms bandit-based approaches and achieves within 60.9% utility of an omniscient, tractable upper bound.


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