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Looking for a good fuzzy system interpretability index: An experimental approach

Alonso, José María; Magdalena, L.; González-Rodríguez, G.
Year: 2009
Type of Publication: Article
Journal: International Journal of Approximate Reasoning
Volume: 51
Number: 1
Pages: 115-134
Month: December
ISSN: 0888-613X
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijar.2009.09.004
Abstract:
Interpretability is acknowledged as the main advantage of fuzzy systems and it should be given a main role in fuzzy modeling. Classical systems are viewed as black boxes because mathematical formulas set the mapping between inputs and outputs. On the contrary, fuzzy systems (if they are built regarding some constraints) can be seen as gray boxes in the sense that every element of the whole system can be checked and understood by a human being. Interpretability is essential for those applications with high human interaction, for instance decision support systems in fields like medicine, economics, etc. Since interpretability is not guaranteed by definition, a huge effort has been done to find out the basic constraints to be superimposed during the fuzzy modeling process. People talk a lot about interpretability but the real meaning is not clear. Understanding of fuzzy systems is a subjective task which strongly depends on the background (experience, preferences, and knowledge) of the person who makes the assessment. As a consequence, although there have been a few attempts to define interpretability indices, there is still not a universal index widely accepted. As part of this work, with the aim of evaluating the most used indices, an experimental analysis (in the form of a web poll) was carried out yielding some useful clues to keep in mind regarding interpretability assessment. Results extracted from the poll show the inherent subjectivity of the measure because we collected a huge diversity of answers completely different at first glance. However, it was possible to find out some interesting user profiles after comparing carefully all the answers. It can be concluded that defining a numerical index is not enough to get a widely accepted index. Moreover, it is necessary to define a fuzzy index easily adaptable to the context of each problem as well as to the user quality criteria.
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