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Causal Inference and Stable Learning

Tong Zhang · Peng Cui

Room 104


Predicting future outcome values based on their observed features using a model estimated on a training data set in a common machine learning problem. Many learning algorithms have been proposed and shown to be successful when the test data and training data come from the same distribution. However, the best-performing models for a given distribution of training data typically exploit subtle statistical relationships among features, making them potentially more prone to prediction error when applied to test data whose distribution differs from that in training data. How to develop learning models that are stable and robust to shifts in data is of paramount importance for both academic research and real applications. Causal inference, which refers to the process of drawing a conclusion about a causal connection based on the conditions of the occurrence of an effect, is a powerful statistical modeling tool for explanatory and stable learning. In this tutorial, we focus on causal inference and stable learning, aiming to explore causal knowledge from observational data to improve the interpretability and stability of machine learning algorithms. First, we will give introduction to causal inference and introduce some recent data-driven approaches to estimate causal effect from observational data, especially in high dimensional setting. Aiming to bridge the gap between causal inference and machine learning for stable learning, we first give the definition of stability and robustness of learning algorithms, then will introduce some recently stable learning algorithms for improving the stability and interpretability of prediction. Finally, we will discuss the applications and future directions of stable learning, and provide the benchmark for stable learning.

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