WindowSHAP: An efficient framework for explaining time-series classifiers based on Shapley values

Amin Nayebi, Sindhu Tipirneni, Chandan K. Reddy, Brandon Foreman, Vignesh Subbian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Unpacking and comprehending how black-box machine learning algorithms (such as deep learning models) make decisions has been a persistent challenge for researchers and end-users. Explaining time-series predictive models is useful for clinical applications with high stakes to understand the behavior of prediction models, e.g., to determine how different variables and time points influence the clinical outcome. However, existing approaches to explain such models are frequently unique to architectures and data where the features do not have a time-varying component. In this paper, we introduce WindowSHAP, a model-agnostic framework for explaining time-series classifiers using Shapley values. We intend for WindowSHAP to mitigate the computational complexity of calculating Shapley values for long time-series data as well as improve the quality of explanations. WindowSHAP is based on partitioning a sequence into time windows. Under this framework, we present three distinct algorithms of Stationary, Sliding and Dynamic WindowSHAP, each evaluated against baseline approaches, KernelSHAP and TimeSHAP, using perturbation and sequence analyses metrics. We applied our framework to clinical time-series data from both a specialized clinical domain (Traumatic Brain Injury - TBI) as well as a broad clinical domain (critical care medicine). The experimental results demonstrate that, based on the two quantitative metrics, our framework is superior at explaining clinical time-series classifiers, while also reducing the complexity of computations. We show that for time-series data with 120 time steps (hours), merging 10 adjacent time points can reduce the CPU time of WindowSHAP by 80 % compared to KernelSHAP. We also show that our Dynamic WindowSHAP algorithm focuses more on the most important time steps and provides more understandable explanations. As a result, WindowSHAP not only accelerates the calculation of Shapley values for time-series data, but also delivers more understandable explanations with higher quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104438
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Explainable artificial intelligence
  • Model interpretation
  • Shapley value
  • Time-series data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


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