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XEMP Prediction Explanations


This section describes XEMP-based Prediction Explanations. See also the general description of Prediction Explanations for an overview of SHAP and XEMP methodologies.

To view XEMP-based Prediction Explanations for a model you must first calculate feature impact. You can do this from either the Prediction Explanations or Feature Impact tabs. (The tabs share computational results.) If you calculate impact for one, the results are also available to the other. The output of the Feature Impact calculation is only displayed in the Feature Impact tab, but is also used to compute Prediction Explanations. Once the computation completes, DataRobot displays the Prediction Explanations results:

The results page includes the following components, described in more detail below. Additional elements for Visual AI projects, described below, are available to support the unique quality of image features.

Component Description
Computation inputs Sets the number of explanations to return for each record and toggles whether to apply low and/or high ranges to the selection.
Change threshold values Sets low and high validation score thresholds for prediction selection.
Prediction Explanations preview Displays a preview of explanations, from the validation data, based on the input and threshold settings.
Calculator Initiates computation of predictions and then explanations for the full selected prediction set, using the selected criteria.

Prediction Explanations overview

The following steps provide a general overview of using the Prediction Explanations tab with uploaded datasets. You can upload and compute explanations for additional datasets, however.

  1. Click Prediction Explanations for the selected model.
  2. If Feature Impact has not already been calculated for the model, click the Compute Feature Impact button:

    When the computation completes, DataRobot displays a preview using the default values (described below).

  3. Inspect the Prediction Explanations preview.

  4. If desired, change the computation inputs and/or threshold values and update the preview.
  5. Compute using the new values and download the results.

DataRobot applies the default or user-specified baseline thresholds to all datasets (training, validation, test, prediction) using the same model. Whenever you modify the baseline, you must update the preview and recompute Prediction Explanations for the uploaded datasets.

Interpret XEMP Prediction Explanations

A sample preview looks as follows:

A simple way to explain this result is:

The prediction value of 0.894 can be found in row 4936. For that value, the six listed features had the highest positive impact on the prediction.

From the example above, you could answer "Why did the model give one of the patients a 89.4% probability of being readmitted?" The explanations indicate that the patient's weight, number of emergency visits (3), and 25 medications all had a strong positive effect on the (also positive) prediction (as well as other reasons).

The distribution is approximated from the validation data; the preview is computed on the validation data. For each prediction, DataRobot provides an ordered list of explanations; the number of explanations is based on the setting. Each explanation is a feature from the dataset and its corresponding value, accompanied by a qualitative indicator of the explanation’s strength—strong (+++), medium (++), or weak (+) positive or negative (-) influence. If an explanation’s score is trivial and has little or no qualitative effect, the output displays three greyed out symbols (+++ or - - -). This indicates both that the effect is minor and its directionality.

Scroll through the prediction values to see results for other patients:

Notes on explanations

Consider the following:

  • If the data points are very similar, the explanations can list the same rounded up values.
  • It is possible to have an explanation state of MISSING if a “missing value” was important (a strong indicator) in making the prediction.
  • Typically, the top explanations for a prediction have the same direction as the outcome, but it is possible that with interaction effects or correlations among variables, an explanation could, for instance, have a strong positive impact on a negative prediction.
  • The number in the ID column is the row number ID from the imported dataset.
  • It is possible that a high-probability prediction shows an explanation of negative influence (or, conversely, a low score prediction shows a variable with high positive effect). In this case, the explanation is indicating that if the value of the variable were different, the prediction would likely be even higher.

    For example, consider predicting hospital readmission risk for a 107-year-old woman with a broken hip, but with excellent blood pressure. She undoubtedly has a high likelihood of readmission, but due to her blood pressure she has a lower risk score (even though the overall risk score is very high). The Prediction Explanations for blood pressure indicate that if the variable were different, the prediction would be higher.

Modify the preview

DataRobot computes a preview of up to 10 Prediction Explanations for a maximum of six predictions from your training data (i.e., from the validation set).

The following are DataRobot's default settings for the Prediction Explanations tab:

Component Default value Notes
Number of Prediction Explanations 3 Set any number of explanations between 1 and 10.
Number of predictions 6 maximum The number of preview predictions shown is capped by the number of data points in the specified range. If there are only four in the specified range, for example, only four rows are shown in the preview.
Low threshold checkbox Selected NA
High threshold checkbox Selected NA
Prediction threshold range Top and bottom 10% of the prediction distribution Drag to change.

The training data is automatically available for prediction and explanation preview. When you upload your prediction dataset, DataRobot computes Prediction Explanations for the full set of predictions.

If you modify the computation inputs and/or threshold values, DataRobot prompts you to update the preview:

Click Update to redisplay the preview with the new settings; click Undo Changes to restore the previous settings. Updating the preview generates a new set of explanations with the given parameters for up to six predictions from within the highlighted range.

Change computation inputs

There are three inputs you can set for DataRobot to use when computing Prediction Explanations—a low or high prediction threshold value (when checked) or no threshold when unchecked, and the the number of explanations for each prediction.

To change the number of explanations, type (or use the arrows in the box) to set a value between one and 10. Check the low and high threshold boxes and use the sliders to set the range from which to view Prediction Explanations. Modifying the inputs prompts you to update the preview.


You must click Update any time you modify the thresholds (and want to save the changes).

Change threshold values

The threshold values demarcate a range in the prediction distribution from which DataRobot pulls the predictions. To change the threshold values, drag the low and/or high threshold bar to your desired location and update the preview.

You can apply low and high threshold filters to speed up computation. When at least one is specified, DataRobot only computes Prediction Explanations for the selected outlier rows. Rows are considered to be outliers if their predicted value (in the case of regression projects) or probability of being the positive class (in classification projects) is less than the low or greater than the high value. If you toggle both filters off, DataRobot computes Prediction Explanations for all rows.

If Exposure is set (for regression projects), the distribution shows the distribution of adjusted predictions (e.g., predictions divided by the exposure). Accordingly, the label of the distribution graph changes to Validation Predictions/Exposure and the prediction column name in the preview table becomes Prediction/Exposure.

Compute and download predictions

DataRobot automatically previews Prediction Explanations for up to six predictions from your training data's validation set. These are shown in the initial display. You can, however, compute and download explanations for the full training partition (1), for the complete dataset (2), or for new datasets (3):

Upload a dataset

Once you are satisfied that the thresholds are returning the types and range of explanations that you are interested in, upload one or more prediction datasets. To do so:

  1. Click + Upload new dataset. DataRobot transfers you to the Make Predictions tab, where you can browse, import, or drag datasets for upload. Optionally, append columns.
  2. Import the new dataset. When import completes, click again on the Understand > Prediction Explanations tab to return.

Append columns

Sometimes you may want to append columns to your prediction results. Appending is a useful tool, for example, to help minimize any additional post-processing work that may be required. Because by default the target feature is not included in the explanation output, appending it is a common action.

The append action is independent of other actions, so you can append at any point in the Prediction Explanation workflow (before or after uploading new datasets or running calculations). When you initiate a download, DataRobot appends the columns you added to the output.

To append features (and you can only append a column that was present when the model was built) either switch to the Make Predictions tab or click Upload a new dataset and you will be taken to that tab automatically. Follow the instructions there beginning with step 5.

Compute full explanations

Although by default the insight that you see reflects validation data, you can view predictions and explanations for all data points in the project's training data. To do so, click the compute button () next to the dataset named Training data. This dataset is automatically available for every model.

Generate and download Prediction Explanations

You can generate explanations on predictions from any uploaded dataset. First though, DataRobot must calculate explanations for all predictions, not just the six from the preview. To compute and download predictions once your dataset is uploaded:

  1. If DataRobot has not calculated explanations for all predictions in a dataset, click the calculator icon () to the right of the dataset to initiate explanation computation.

  2. Complete the fields in the Compute explanations modal to set the parameters and click Compute to compute explanations for each row in the corresponding dataset:

    DataRobot begins calculating explanations; track the progress in the Worker Queue.

  3. When calculations complete, the dataset is marked as ready for download.

  4. Click the download icon () to export all of the datasets predictions and corresponding explanations in CSV format. When assembly is complete, DataRobot prompts you to browse to a storage location.

    Note that predictions outside the selected range are included in the data but do not contain explanations.

  5. If you update the settings (change the thresholds or number of explanations) you must first click the Update button and then recalculate the explanations by clicking the calculator:


Only the most recent version of explanations is saved for a dataset. To compare parameter settings, download the Prediction Explanations CSV for a setting and rerun them for the new setting.

Prediction Explanations for Visual AI

Prediction Explanations for Visual AI projects, also known as Image Explanations, allow you to retrieve explanations for datasets that include features of type "image". Visual AI Image Explanations support all the features described above, with some additions.

Once calculated, notice the addition of an icon, indicating that an image was an important part of the explanation:

Click on the icon () to drill down into the image explanation:

Toggle on the Activation Map to see what the model "looked at" in the image.

Compute and download explanations

As with Prediction Explanations, you can compute predictions and download explanations for every row in your dataset. When you download the Image Explanations archive, it contains:

  • a predictions CSV file (1)
  • a folder of images (2)

Open the CSV and notice that for image features that are part of the explanation, the image file name is listed as the feature's value.

Open the image folder to find and view a rendered (heat-mapped) photo of the associated image.

Updated October 26, 2021
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