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Causal Identification under Markov Equivalence: Completeness Results
Amin Jaber · Jiji Zhang · Elias Bareinboim

Wed Jun 12 02:00 PM -- 02:20 PM (PDT) @ Grand Ballroom

Causal effect identification is the task of determining whether a causal distribution is computable from the combination of an observational distribution and substantive knowledge about the domain under investigation. One of the most studied versions of this problem assumes that knowledge is articulated in the form of a fully known causal diagram, which is arguably a strong assumption in many settings. In this paper, we relax this requirement and consider that the knowledge is articulated in the form of an equivalence class of causal diagrams, in particular, a partial ancestral graph (PAG). This is attractive because a PAG can be learned directly from data, and the data scientist does not need to commit to a particular, unique diagram. There are different sufficient conditions for identification in PAGs, but none is complete. We derive a complete algorithm for identification given a PAG. This implies that whenever the causal effect is identifiable, the algorithm returns a valid identification expression; alternatively, it will throw a failure condition, which means that the effect is provably not identifiable (unless stronger assumptions are made). We further provide a graphical characterization of non-identifiability of causal effects in PAGs.

Author Information

Amin Jaber (Purdue University)
Jiji Zhang (Lingnan U)
Elias Bareinboim (Purdue)
Elias Bareinboim

Elias Bareinboim is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and the director of the Causal Artificial Intelligence (CausalAI) Laboratory at Columbia University. His research focuses on causal and counterfactual inference and their applications to artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as data-driven fields in the health and social sciences. His work was the first to propose a general solution to the problem of ``causal data-fusion,'' providing practical methods for combining datasets generated under different experimental conditions and plagued with various biases. In the last years, Bareinboim has been exploring the intersection of causal inference with decision-making (including reinforcement learning) and explainability (including fairness analysis). Before joining Columbia, he was an assistant professor at Purdue University and received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Bareinboim was named one of ``AI's 10 to Watch'' by IEEE, and is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award, the Dan David Prize Scholarship, the 2014 AAAI Outstanding Paper Award, and the 2019 UAI Best Paper Award.

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