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Explaining by Imitating: Understanding Decisions by Interpretable Policy Learning

Alihan Hüyük · Daniel Jarrett · Cem Tekin · Mihaela van der Schaar

Keywords: [ understanding decision-making ] [ interpretable policy learning ]


Understanding human behavior from observed data is critical for transparency and accountability in decision-making. Consider real-world settings such as healthcare, in which modeling a decision-maker’s policy is challenging—with no access to underlying states, no knowledge of environment dynamics, and no allowance for live experimentation. We desire learning a data-driven representation of decision- making behavior that (1) inheres transparency by design, (2) accommodates partial observability, and (3) operates completely offline. To satisfy these key criteria, we propose a novel model-based Bayesian method for interpretable policy learning (“Interpole”) that jointly estimates an agent’s (possibly biased) belief-update process together with their (possibly suboptimal) belief-action mapping. Through experiments on both simulated and real-world data for the problem of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, we illustrate the potential of our approach as an investigative device for auditing, quantifying, and understanding human decision-making behavior.

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