LIME explanation of edible vs poisonous

Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations – LIME in Python

When working with classification and/or regression techniques, its always good to have the ability to ‘explain’ what your model is doing. Using Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations (LIME), you now have the ability to quickly provide visual explanations of your model(s).

Its quite easy to throw numbers or content into an algorithm and get a result that looks good. We can test for accuracy and feel confident that the classifier and/or model is ‘good’…but can we describe what the model is actually doing to other users? A good data scientist spends some of their time making sure they have reasonable explanations for what the model is doing and why the results are what they are.

There’s always been a focus on ‘trust’ in any type of modeling methodology but with machine learning and deep learning, many people feel like the black-box approach taken with these methods isn’t as trustworthy as other methods.  This topic was addressed in a paper titled Why Should I Trust You?”: Explaining the Predictions of Any Classifier, which proposes the concept of Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations (LIME). According to the paper, LIME is ‘an algorithm that can explain the predictions of any classifier or regressor in a faithful way, by approximating it locally with an interpretable model.’

I’ve used the LIME approach a few times in recent projects and really like the idea. It breaks down the modeling / classification techniques and output into a form that can be easily described to non-technical people.  That said, LIME isn’t a replacement for doing your job as a data scientist, but it is another tool to add to your toolbox.

To implement LIME in python, I use this LIME library written / released by one of the authors the above paper.

I thought it might be good to provide a quick run-through of how to use this library. For this post, I’m going to mimic “Using lime for regression” notebook the authors provide, but I’m going to provide a little more explanation.

The full notebook is available in my repo here.

Getting started with Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations (LIME)

Before you get started, you’ll need to install Lime.

Next, let’s import our required libraries.

Let’s load the sklearn dataset called ‘boston’. This data is a dataset that contains house prices that is often used for machine learning regression examples.

Before we do much else, let’s take a look at the description of the dataset to get familiar with it.  You can do this by running the following command:

The output is:

Now that we have our data loaded, we want to build a regression model to forecast boston housing prices. We’ll use random forest for this to follow the example by the authors.

First, we’ll set up the RF Model and then create our training and test data using the train_test_split module from sklearn. Then, we’ll fit the data.

Now that we have a Random Forest Regressor trained, we can check some of the accuracy measures.

Tbe MSError is: 10.45. Now, let’s look at the MSError when predicting the mean.

From this, we get 80.09.

Without really knowing the dataset, its hard to say whether they are good or bad.  Since we are really most interested in looking at the LIME approach, we’ll move along and assume these are decent errors.

To implement LIME, we need to get the categorical features from our data and then build an ‘explainer’. This is done with the following commands:

and the explainer:

Now, we can grab one of our test values and check out our prediction(s). Here, we’ll grab the 100th test value and check the prediction and see what the explainer has to say about it.

LIME Explainer for regression
LIME Explainer for regression

So…what does this tell us?

It tells us that the 100th test value’s prediction is 21.16 with the “RAD=24” value providing the most positive valuation and the other features providing negative valuation in the prediction.

For regression, this isn’t quite as interesting (although it is useful). The LIME approach shows much more benefit (at least to me) when performing classification.

As an example, if you are trying to classify plants as edible or poisonous, LIME’s explanation is much more useful. Here’s an example from the authors.

LIME explanation of edible vs poisonous
LIME explanation of edible vs poisonous

Take a look at LIME when you have some time. Its a good library to add to your toolkit, especially if you are doing a lot of classification work. It makes it much easier to ‘explain’ what the model is doing.

Eric D. Brown , D.Sc. has a doctorate in Information Systems with a specialization in Data Sciences, Decision Support and Knowledge Management. He writes about utilizing python for data analytics at and the crossroads of technology and strategy at

2 thoughts on “Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations – LIME in Python

    1. That’s not a surprise.

      LIME is ‘an algorithm that can explain the predictions of any classifier or regressor in a faithful way, by approximating it locally with an interpretable model’

      I would expect it to provide slightly different results when you run it with this dataset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.