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Constrained Monotonic Neural Networks

Davor Runje · Sharath M Shankaranarayana

Exhibit Hall 1 #213
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Abstract: Wider adoption of neural networks in many critical domains such as finance and healthcare is being hindered by the need to explain their predictions and to impose additional constraints on them. Monotonicity constraint is one of the most requested properties in real-world scenarios and is the focus of this paper. One of the oldest ways to construct a monotonic fully connected neural network is to constrain signs on its weights. Unfortunately, this construction does not work with popular non-saturated activation functions as it can only approximate convex functions. We show this shortcoming can be fixed by constructing two additional activation functions from a typical unsaturated monotonic activation function and employing each of them on the part of neurons. Our experiments show this approach of building monotonic neural networks has better accuracy when compared to other state-of-the-art methods, while being the simplest one in the sense of having the least number of parameters, and not requiring any modifications to the learning procedure or post-learning steps. Finally, we prove it can approximate any continuous monotone function on a compact subset of $\mathbb{R}^n$.

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