Open the Black Box – Visualising CNN to Understand Its Decisions on Road Network Performance Level
Visualisation helps explain the operating mechanisms of deep learning models, but its applications are rarely seen in traffic analysis. This paper employs a convolu-tional neural network (CNN) to evaluate road network performance level (NPL) and visualises the model to en-lighten how it works. A dataset of an urban road network covering a whole year is used to produce performance maps to train a CNN. In this process, a pretrained network is introduced to overcome the common issue of inadequa-cy of data in transportation research. Gradient weighted class activation mapping (Grad-CAM) is applied to vi-sualise the CNN, and four visualisation experiments are conducted. The results illustrate that the CNN focuses on different areas when it identifies the road network as dif-ferent NPLs, implying which region contributes the most to the deteriorating performance. There are particular visual patterns when the road network transits from one NPL to another, which may help performance prediction. Misclassified samples are analysed to determine how the CNN fails to make the right decisions, exposing the model’s deficiencies. The results indicate visualisation’s potential to contribute to comprehensive management strategies and effective model improvement.
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