Explainable Clustering via Exemplars: Complexity and Efficient Approximation Algorithms

Ian Davidson, Michael Livanos, Antoine Gourru, Peter Walker, Julien Velcin, S. S. Ravi

Explainable AI (XAI) is an important developing area but remains relatively understudied for clustering. We propose an explainable-by-design clustering approach that not only finds clusters but also exemplars to explain each cluster. The use of exemplars for understanding is supported by the exemplar-based school of concept definition in psychology. We show that finding a small set of exemplars to explain even a single cluster is computationally intractable; hence, the overall problem is challenging. We develop an approximation algorithm that provides provable performance guarantees with respect to clustering quality as well as the number of exemplars used. This basic algorithm explains all the instances in every cluster whilst another approximation algorithm uses a bounded number of exemplars to allow simpler explanations and provably covers a large fraction of all the instances. Experimental results show that our work is useful in domains involving difficult to understand deep embeddings of images and text.

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