Explainable Artificial Intelligence for Tabular Data: A Survey

Maria Sahakyan, Zeyar Aung, Talal Rahwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Machine learning techniques are increasingly gaining attention due to their widespread use in various disciplines across academia and industry. Despite their tremendous success, many such techniques suffer from the 'black-box' problem, which refers to situations where the data analyst is unable to explain why such techniques arrive at certain decisions. This problem has fuelled interest in Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI), which refers to techniques that can easily be interpreted by humans. Unfortunately, many of these techniques are not suitable for tabular data, which is surprising given the importance and widespread use of tabular data in critical applications such as finance, healthcare, and criminal justice. Also surprising is the fact that, despite the vast literature on XAI, there are still no survey articles to date that focus on tabular data. Consequently, despite the existing survey articles that cover a wide range of XAI techniques, it remains challenging for researchers working on tabular data to go through all of these surveys and extract the techniques that are suitable for their analysis. Our article fills this gap by providing a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the XAI techniques that are relevant to tabular data. Furthermore, we categorize the references covered in our survey, indicating the type of the model being explained, the approach being used to provide the explanation, and the XAI problem being addressed. Our article is the first to provide researchers with a map that helps them navigate the XAI literature in the context of tabular data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135392-135422
Number of pages31
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2021


  • Black-box models
  • explainable artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • model interpretability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science


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