Explainable artificial intelligence through graph theory by generalized social network analysis-based classifier

Creative Commons License

Ucer S., Ozyer T., Alhajj R.

Scientific Reports, vol.12, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41598-022-19419-7
  • Journal Name: Scientific Reports
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


We propose a new type of supervised visual machine learning classifier, GSNAc, based on graph theory and social network analysis techniques. In a previous study, we employed social network analysis techniques and introduced a novel classification model (called Social Network Analysis-based Classifier—SNAc) which efficiently works with time-series numerical datasets. In this study, we have extended SNAc to work with any type of tabular data by showing its classification efficiency on a broader collection of datasets that may contain numerical and categorical features. This version of GSNAc simply works by transforming traditional tabular data into a network where samples of the tabular dataset are represented as nodes and similarities between the samples are reflected as edges connecting the corresponding nodes. The raw network graph is further simplified and enriched by its edge space to extract a visualizable ‘graph classifier model—GCM’. The concept of the GSNAc classification model relies on the study of node similarities over network graphs. In the prediction step, the GSNAc model maps test nodes into GCM, and evaluates their average similarity to classes by employing vectorial and topological metrics. The novel side of this research lies in transforming multidimensional data into a 2D visualizable domain. This is realized by converting a conventional dataset into a network of ‘samples’ and predicting classes after a careful and detailed network analysis. We exhibit the classification performance of GSNAc as an effective classifier by comparing it with several well-established machine learning classifiers using some popular benchmark datasets. GSNAc has demonstrated superior or comparable performance compared to other classifiers. Additionally, it introduces a visually comprehensible process for the benefit of end-users. As a result, the spin-off contribution of GSNAc lies in the interpretability of the prediction task since the process is human-comprehensible; and it is highly visual.