Adversarial balancing-based representation learning for causal effect inference with observational data

Xin Du, Lei Sun, Wouter Duivesteijn, Alexander Nikolaev, Mykola Pechenizkiy

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Abstract

Learning causal effects from observational data greatly benefits a variety of domains such as healthcare, education and sociology. For instance, one could estimate the impact of a policy to decrease unemployment rate. The central problem for causal effect inference is dealing with the unobserved counterfactuals and treatment selection bias. The state-of-the-art approaches focus on solving these problems by balancing the treatment and control groups. However, during the learning and balancing process, highly predictive information from the original covariate space might be lost. In order to build more robust estimators, we tackle this information loss problem by presenting a method called Adversarial Balancing-based representation learning for Causal Effect Inference (ABCEI), based on the recent advances in deep learning. ABCEI uses adversarial learning to balance the distributions of treatment and control group in the latent representation space, without any assumption on the form of the treatment selection/assignment function. ABCEI preserves useful information for predicting causal effects under the regularization of a mutual information estimator. We conduct various experiments on several synthetic and real-world datasets. The experimental results show that ABCEI is robust against treatment selection bias, and matches/outperforms the state-of-the-art approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1904.13335v1
Number of pages17
JournalarXiv
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019

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title = "Adversarial balancing-based representation learning for causal effect inference with observational data",
abstract = "Learning causal effects from observational data greatly benefits a variety of domains such as healthcare, education and sociology. For instance, one could estimate the impact of a policy to decrease unemployment rate. The central problem for causal effect inference is dealing with the unobserved counterfactuals and treatment selection bias. The state-of-the-art approaches focus on solving these problems by balancing the treatment and control groups. However, during the learning and balancing process, highly predictive information from the original covariate space might be lost. In order to build more robust estimators, we tackle this information loss problem by presenting a method called Adversarial Balancing-based representation learning for Causal Effect Inference (ABCEI), based on the recent advances in deep learning. ABCEI uses adversarial learning to balance the distributions of treatment and control group in the latent representation space, without any assumption on the form of the treatment selection/assignment function. ABCEI preserves useful information for predicting causal effects under the regularization of a mutual information estimator. We conduct various experiments on several synthetic and real-world datasets. The experimental results show that ABCEI is robust against treatment selection bias, and matches/outperforms the state-of-the-art approaches.",
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author = "Xin Du and Lei Sun and Wouter Duivesteijn and Alexander Nikolaev and Mykola Pechenizkiy",
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Adversarial balancing-based representation learning for causal effect inference with observational data. / Du, Xin; Sun, Lei; Duivesteijn, Wouter; Nikolaev, Alexander; Pechenizkiy, Mykola.

In: arXiv, 30.04.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

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AU - Sun, Lei

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