Interpreting Deep Learning: The Machine Learning Rorschach Test?
Theoretical understanding of deep learning is one of the most important tasks facing the statistics and machine learning communities. While deep neural networks (DNNs) originated as engineering methods and models of biological networks in neuroscience and psychology, they have quickly become a centerpiece of the machine learning toolbox. Unfortunately, DNN adoption powered by recent successes combined with the open-source nature of the machine learning community, has outpaced our theoretical
... erstanding. We cannot reliably identify when and why DNNs will make mistakes. In some applications like text translation these mistakes may be comical and provide for fun fodder in research talks, a single error can be very costly in tasks like medical imaging. As we utilize DNNs in increasingly sensitive applications, a better understanding of their properties is thus imperative. Recent advances in DNN theory are numerous and include many different sources of intuition, such as learning theory, sparse signal analysis, physics, chemistry, and psychology. An interesting pattern begins to emerge in the breadth of possible interpretations. The seemingly limitless approaches are mostly constrained by the lens with which the mathematical operations are viewed. Ultimately, the interpretation of DNNs appears to mimic a type of Rorschach test --- a psychological test wherein subjects interpret a series of seemingly ambiguous ink-blots. Validation for DNN theory requires a convergence of the literature. We must distinguish between universal results that are invariant to the analysis perspective and those that are specific to a particular network configuration. Simultaneously we must deal with the fact that many standard statistical tools for quantifying generalization or empirically assessing important network features are difficult to apply to DNNs.