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Algorithmic Recourse in Partially and Fully Confounded Settings Through Bounding Counterfactual Effects
Julius von Kügelgen · Nikita Agarwal · Jakob Zeitler · Afsaneh Mastouri · Bernhard Schölkopf

Algorithmic recourse aims to provide actionable recommendations to individuals to obtain a more favourable outcome from an automated decision-making system. As it involves reasoning about interventions performed in the physical world, recourse is fundamentally a causal problem. Existing methods compute the effect of recourse actions using a causal model learnt from data under the assumption of no hidden confounding and modelling assumptions such as additive noise. We propose an alternative approach for discrete random variables which relaxes these assumptions and allows for unobserved confounding and arbitrary structural equations. The proposed approach only requires specification of the causal graph and confounding structure and bounds the expected counterfactual effect of recourse actions. If the lower bound is above a certain threshold, i.e., on the other side of the decision boundary, recourse is guaranteed in expectation.

Author Information

Julius von Kügelgen (MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen & University of Cambridge)
Nikita Agarwal (Graduate Training Center of Neuroscience, IMPRS, tuebingen)
Jakob Zeitler (UCL)
Afsaneh Mastouri (University College London)
Bernhard Schölkopf (MPI for Intelligent Systems Tübingen, Germany)

Bernhard Scholkopf received degrees in mathematics (London) and physics (Tubingen), and a doctorate in computer science from the Technical University Berlin. He has researched at AT&T Bell Labs, at GMD FIRST, Berlin, at the Australian National University, Canberra, and at Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK). In 2001, he was appointed scientific member of the Max Planck Society and director at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics; in 2010 he founded the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. For further information, see www.kyb.tuebingen.mpg.de/~bs.

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