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Adjustment Criteria for Generalizing Experimental Findings
Juan Correa · Jin Tian · Elias Bareinboim

Wed Jun 12 02:40 PM -- 03:00 PM (PDT) @ Grand Ballroom

One of the central problems across the data-driven sciences is of that generalizing experimental findings across changing conditions, for instance, whether a causal distribution obtained from a controlled experiment is valid in settings beyond the study population. While a proper design and careful execution of the experiment can support, under mild conditions, the validity of inferences about the population in which the experiment was conducted, two challenges make the extrapolation step difficult – transportability and sampling selection bias. The former poses the question of whether the domain (i.e., settings, population, environment) where the experiment is realized differs from the target domain in their distributions and causal mechanisms; the latter refers to distortions in the sample’s proportions due to preferential selection of units into the study. In this paper, we investigate the assumptions and machinery necessary for using covariate adjustment to correct for the biases generated by both of these problems, to generalize biased experimental data to infer causal effect in the target domain. We provide complete graphical conditions to determine if a set of covariates is admissible for adjustment. Building on the graphical characterization, we develop an efficient algorithm that enumerates all possible admissible sets with poly-time delay guarantee; this can be useful for when some variables are preferred over the others due to different costs or amenability to measurement.

Author Information

Juan Correa (Purdue University)
Jin Tian (Iowa State University)
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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