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On Interpretability of Deep Learning based SkinLesion Classifiers using Concept Activation Vectors

Adriano Lucieri; Muhammad Naseer Bajwa; Stephan Alexander Braun; Muhammad Imran Malik; Andreas Dengel; Sheraz Ahmed
In: International Joint Conference on Neural Networks. International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN-2020), July 19-24, Glasgow, United Kingdom, IEEE, 2020.


Deep learning based medical image classifiers have shown remarkable prowess in various application areas like ophthalmology, dermatology, pathology, and radiology. However, the acceptance of these Computer-Aided Diagnosis (CAD) systems in real clinical setups is severely limited primarily because their decision-making process remains largely obscure. This work aims at elucidating a deep learning based medical image classifier by verifying that the model learns and utilizes similar disease-related concepts as described and employed by dermatologists. We used a well-trained and high performing neural network developed by REasoning for COmplex Data (RECOD) Lab for classification of three skin tumours, i.e. Melanocytic Naevi, Melanoma and Seborrheic Keratosis and performed a detailed analysis on its latent space. Two well established and publicly available skin disease datasets, PH2 and derm7pt, are used for experimentation. These datasets provide annotations for various disease-related concepts in addition to image-wise diagnosis labels. Human understandable concepts are mapped to RECOD image classification model with the help of Concept Activation Vectors (CAVs), introducing a novel training and significance testing paradigm for CAVs. Our results on an independent evaluation set clearly shows that the classifier learns and encodes human understandable concepts in its latent representation. Additionally, TCAV scores (Testing with CAVs) suggest that the neural network indeed makes use of disease-related concepts in the correct way when making predictions. We anticipate that this work can not only increase confidence of medical practitioners on CAD but also serve as a stepping stone for further development of CAV-based neural network interpretation methods.