Towards Debiasing DNN Models from Spurious Feature Influence

Mengnan Du, Ruixiang Tang, Weijie Fu, Xia Hu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Recent studies indicate that deep neural networks (DNNs) are prone to show discrimination towards certain demographic groups. We observe that algorithmic discrimination can be explained by the high reliance of the models on fairness sensitive features. Motivated by this observation, we propose to achieve fairness by suppressing the DNN models from capturing the spurious correlation between those fairness sensitive features with the underlying task. Specifically, we first train a bias-only teacher model which is explicitly encouraged to maximally employ fairness sensitive features for prediction. The teacher model then counter-teaches a debiased student model so that the interpretation of the student model is orthogonal to the interpretation of the teacher model. The key idea is that since the teacher model relies explicitly on fairness sensitive features for prediction, the orthogonal interpretation loss enforces the student network to reduce its reliance on sensitive features and instead capture more taskrelevant features for prediction. Experimental analysis indicates that our framework substantially reduces the model's attention on fairness sensitive features. Experimental results on four datasets further validate that our framework has consistently improved model fairness with respect to group fairness metrics, with a comparable or even better accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAAAI-22 Technical Tracks 9
PublisherAssociation for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)1577358767, 9781577358763
StatePublished - Jun 30 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Feb 22 2022Mar 1 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022


Conference36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence


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