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From Clustering to Cluster Explanations via Neural Networks

Jacob Kauffmann
Malte Esders
Lukas Ruff
Grégoire Montavon
Wojciech Samek
Klaus-Robert Müller

July 07 , 2022

A recent trend in machine learning has been to enrich learned models with the ability to explain their own predictions. The emerging field of explainable AI (XAI) has so far mainly focused on supervised learning, in particular, deep neural network classifiers. In many practical problems, however, the label information is not given and the goal is instead to discover the underlying structure of the data, for example, its clusters. While powerful methods exist for extracting the cluster structure in data, they typically do not answer the question why a certain data point has been assigned to a given cluster. We propose a new framework that can, for the first time, explain cluster assignments in terms of input features in an efficient and reliable manner. It is based on the novel insight that clustering models can be rewritten as neural networks—or “neuralized.” Cluster predictions of the obtained networks can then be quickly and accurately attributed to the input features. Several showcases demonstrate the ability of our method to assess the quality of learned clusters and to extract novel insights from the analyzed data and representations.