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SliceLine: Fast, Linear-Algebra-based Slice Finding for ML Model Debugging

Svetlana Sagadeeva
Matthias Boehm

June 18, 2021

Slice finding---a recent work on debugging machine learning (ML) models---aims to find the top-K data slices (e.g., conjunctions of predicates such as gender female and degree PhD), where a trained model performs significantly worse than on the entire training/test data. These slices may be used to acquire more data for the problematic subset, add rules, or otherwise improve the model. In contrast to decision trees, the general slice finding problem allows for overlapping slices. The resulting search space is huge as it covers all subsets of features and their distinct values. Hence, existing work primarily relies on heuristics and focuses on small datasets that fit in memory of a single node. In this paper, we address these scalability limitations of slice finding in a holistic manner from both algorithmic and system perspectives. We leverage monotonicity properties of slice sizes, errors and resulting scores to facilitate effective pruning. Additionally, we present an elegant linear-algebra-based enumeration algorithm, which allows for fast enumeration and automatic parallelization on top of existing ML systems. Experiments with different real-world regression and classification datasets show that effective pruning and efficient sparse linear algebra renders exact enumeration feasible, even for datasets with many features, correlations, and data sizes beyond single node memory.