A Study on Mitigating Hard Boundaries of Decision-Tree-based Uncertainty Estimates for AI Models

Pascal Gerber, Lisa Jöckel, Michael Kläs

Outcomes of data-driven AI models cannot be assumed to be always correct. To estimate the uncertainty in these outcomes, the uncertainty wrapper framework has been proposed, which considers uncertainties related to model fit, input quality, and scope compliance. Uncertainty wrappers use a decision tree approach to cluster input quality related uncertainties, assigning inputs strictly to distinct uncertainty clusters. Hence, a slight variation in only one feature may lead to a cluster assignment with a significantly different uncertainty. Our objective is to replace this with an approach that mitigates hard decision boundaries of these assignments while preserving interpretability, runtime complexity, and prediction performance. Five approaches were selected as candidates and integrated into the uncertainty wrapper framework. For the evaluation based on the Brier score, datasets for a pedestrian detection use case were generated using the CARLA simulator and YOLOv3. All integrated approaches achieved a softening, i.e., smoothing, of uncertainty estimation. Yet, compared to decision trees, they are not so easy to interpret and have higher runtime complexity. Moreover, some components of the Brier score impaired while others improved. Most promising regarding the Brier score were random forests. In conclusion, softening hard decision tree boundaries appears to be a trade-off decision.

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