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LIME vs SHAP: A Comparative Analysis of Interpretability Tools

February 26, 2024
min read

The black box of machine learning models is essential for building trust and understanding their predictions. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of two prominent interpretability tools - LIME and SHAP. In the field of explainable AI, LIME (Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations) and SHAP (SHapley Addictive exPlanations) offer unique approaches to complex model outputs. 

Let’s learn about their methodologies, applications, and comparative analysis, empowering data scientists, researchers, and enthusiasts to make informed choices when seeking transparency and interpretability in machine learning.  

Understanding Model Interpretability in ML Models

LIME and SHAP techniques for model interpretability
Image source

In the dynamic realm of machine learning, it takes more than achieving accurate predictions. Understanding the rationale behind model decisions is important. Let’s explore the significance of the interpretability of ML Models and the key techniques for gaining insights into these models with the help of examples.


LIME, or Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations, is a technique that generates local approximations to model predictions. 

Example: In the process of predicting sentiments with a neural network, LIME highlights important words in a specific prediction. 


SHAP or SHapley Addictive exPlanations is a technique that is used to assign a value to each feature, indicating its contribution to a model’s output. 

Example: Credit scoring is a good example as it utilizes SHAP to reveal the impact of variables like income and credit history on the final credit score. 

Importance of Interpretability

  • Trust and Reliability: Users gain confidence when they understand model decisions. 
  • Compliance and Regulations: Essential for meeting regulatory requirements. 
  • Debugging and Improvement: Enables identification of model weaknesses for refinement. 

Understanding model interpretability is integral for fostering trust, meeting regulatory standards, and refining models for optimal performance. By employing tools like LIME and SHAP, practitioners can navigate the complex terrain of ML with transparency and clarity.

That’s where the MarkovML no-code platform helps organizations experience unparalleled transparency in comprehending and explaining the outcomes of their AI models. 

Comparison of LIME and SHAP 

LIME and SHAP local explanations
Image source

Interpretable machine learning is significant in deciphering the decisions made by complex models. As the two influential tools, LIME and SHAP, bring unique methodologies to the forefront, this comparative analysis of interpretability tools will shed light on their respective contributions in the pursuit of transparent and interpretable machine learning.

Scope of Interpretability LIME offers localized interpretability, ideal for understanding individual predictions in simpler models. It excels in scenarios like fraud detection, image misclassifications, and text classification, providing clear insights at the instance level.  Provides both global and local interpretability, making it versatile for various model types. It is ideal for applications like credit scoring, healthcare predictions, and complex neural networks for image recognition, offering a comprehensive overview of feature importance globally and locally.
Model Agnosticism LIME is a model-agnostic interpretability tool, which means it can be applied to any machine learning model, regardless of its type and complexity. It generates local approximations by perturbing input data, making it adaptable to a wide range of models, from simple linear regressions to complex neural networks.  SHAP is also model agnostic, but the Shapley value it computes has model-specific priorities. While SHAP can be applied to any model, the output may differ based on the model’s characteristics. SHAP’s versatility extends across different types of models, including ensemble methods and deep learning architectures. 
Task Complexity LIME is suitable for simpler models, offering effective explanations for local instances. However, its perturbation approach may have limitations in handling the intricacies of highly complex models.  SHAP is versatile and compatible with a broad range of models, including complex ones like ensemble methods and deep neural networks. Its Shapley values provide a comprehensive understanding of feature contributions, making it robust in handling tasks with varying levels of complexity. 
Stability and Consistency LIME might display instability as it relies on random sampling during perturbation, leading to different explanations for similar instances. This randomness can affect the reliability of explanations, especially with small perturbation samples.  SHAP tends to be more stable and consistent. Its Shapley values follow principles of cooperative game theory, ensuring consistency across multiple runs. SHAP’s stability makes it a preferred choice in scenarios where consistent and reliable feature attributions are crucial, providing more confidence in the interpretability of machine learning models. 
Visualization Preferences LIME usually relies on visualizing perturbed samples for explanations, which may be effective for individual predictions but can lack the comprehensiveness desired for global insights. Visualization in LIME is more focused on local perturbations.  SHAP offers a rich set of visualization tools, including summary plots, force plots, and dependency plots. This versatility enables users to gain both global and local perspectives on model behavior. SHAP's diverse visualization caters to different preferences, making it suitable for a wide range of interpretability needs - from detailed feature contributions to holistic model understanding. 

Choosing the Right Tool 

Picking the right tool for your model requires a thoughtful evaluation of various factors. Consider the specific nature of your interpretability needs, the complexity of your model, and whether you prioritize localized or comprehensive insights when selecting a tool for your machine learning models. Let's understand these factors in detail. 

1. Scope of Task

Consider the specific nature of your interpretability needs, the complexity of your model, and whether you prioritize localized or comprehensive insights when selecting a tool for your machine-learning model. Additionally, factor in visualization preferences and computational considerations to align the chosen tool with the unique demands of your ML interpretability task. 

  • If you’re seeking localized insights for individual predictions in simpler models, opt for LIME. 
  • If your task demands a broader understanding, encompassing both global and local perspectives, and involves complex models, SHAP is more suitable. 

2. Model Characteristics

For choosing the right model interpretability tool, it is important to assess the nature of your model, considering its intricacy and the type of data it handles. LIME is more Straightforward computationally, while SHAP accommodates a wider range of model complexities.

  • If you have a simpler model, consider LIME, as it excels in providing clear insights. 
  • Choose SHAP for complex models, including deep neural networks or ensemble methods, to gain both local and global interpretability. 

3. Task Complexity

Understanding the task complexity of your machine learning models will help you select the right tool. Assess the task complexity and interpretability needed to align the right tool with your machine learning objectives effectively. 

  • For simpler models where localized interpretability suffices, LIME is suitable. The effectiveness of LIME provides clear insights for individual predictions. 
  • Use SHAP for complex ML models as it offers a broader perspective on feature contribution.  

4. Stability and Consistency

When considering stability and consistency, choose between LIME and SHAP based on the reliability you require. Access your tolerance for variability and prioritize stability in your interpretability needs. If a robust and dependable explanation is needed, especially in situations that demand consistency, SHAP provides a more reliable choice for interpreting ML models. 

  • LIME might exhibit instability due to random sampling, which makes it less consistent across runs. 
  • If a stable and consistent interpretation is crucial, particularly in sensitive applications, SHAP is preferred. 

Best Practices for Effective Usage

LIME model explainability
Image source

Selectivity in Perturbation (LIME)

In LIME, the selectivity in perturbation refers to the deliberate choice of features to be modified during data sampling. Instead of perturbing all the features uniformly, selective perturbation targets specific aspects of the input data. This approach ensures that the perturbations are relevant to the local context of a particular prediction, contributing to a more accurate and meaningful interpretation of the model’s behavior for that instance. 

Feature Importance Interpretation (SHAP)

In SHAP, feature importance interpretation involves assigning values to each feature based on Shapley values. It quantifies the contribution of individual features to a model’s output, providing insights into their impact. Positive values signify a positive contribution, while negative values indicate a negative impact. SHAP’s approach offers a comprehensive understanding of how each feature influences predictions in a machine-learning model. 

Documentation and Communication Best Practices

Best Practices for Model Explanations: LIME

  • Clearly outline the perturbation process.
  • Specify the rationale behind feature selection for perturbation.
  • Provide examples illustrating LIME’s application on different models. 

Best Practices for Model Explanations: SHAP

  • Document the computation of Shapley values. 
  • Explain the significance of positive and negative SHAP values.
  • Include visualizations, like summary plots, for effective communication of feature importance in machine learning. 

Model Validation and Ethical Considerations


  • Validate LIME results against ground truth where feasible.
  • Acknowledge potential biases in perturbation and address them. 
  • Ethically use LIME in the sensitive domain, ensuring responsible interpretation. 


  • Validate SHAP values by comparing them with known model behavior. 
  • Be mindful of potential biases and address ethical concerns.
  • Transparently communicate and validate SHAP results for a trustworthy model. 

Use Cases and Practical Applications

Let’s have a look at the real-world applications of interpretability tools to understand how these tools are transforming technology in different realms of the industry. 

LIME for Fraud Detection 

In fraud detection, LIME can be applied to interpret black-box models’ decisions for Individual transactions. By perturbing features like transaction amount and customer details, LIME reveals the local factors influencing fraud predictions. This aids investors in understanding specific instances of flagged transactions and contributes to a more transparent and interpretable fraud detection system. 

SHAP for Credit Scoring

In the credit scoring models, SHAP can illuminate the global and local impact of features like income and credit history on credit scores. By computing SHAP values, it provides a comprehensive understanding of how individual factors contribute to creditworthiness. This empowers financial institutions to make more transparent and fair lending decisions. Further, it helps align with regulatory requirements while ensuring interpretability in credit scoring models. 


In this comprehensive guide, we uncovered the unique strengths and applications of LIME and SHAP. While LIME excels in localized insights, SHAP provides a broader understanding, which is crucial for complex models. The choice hinges on task requirements. You can pick LIME for focused, instance-level clarity and SHAP for comprehensive global and local perspectives. 

Tailoring your selection to the intricacies of your machine-learning task ensures that interpretability aligns seamlessly with your objective. As you navigate the complexities of model development, consider incorporating a powerful tool into your workflow. 

MakovML is a feature-rich tool for building ML models and reusable workflows without the need for extensive coding. With a focus on transparency and providing valuable insights, the tool empowers users to make informed decisions, contributing to the effectiveness and efficiency of interpretable machine learning models.

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