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Minimax Pareto Fairness: A Multi Objective Perspective

Natalia Martinez Gil · Martin Bertran · Guillermo Sapiro


Keywords: [ Fairness, Equity and Justice ] [ Fairness, Equity, Justice, and Safety ]


In this work we formulate and formally characterize group fairness as a multi-objective optimization problem, where each sensitive group risk is a separate objective. We propose a fairness criterion where a classifier achieves minimax risk and is Pareto-efficient w.r.t. all groups, avoiding unnecessary harm, and can lead to the best zero-gap model if policy dictates so. We provide a simple optimization algorithm compatible with deep neural networks to satisfy these constraints. Since our method does not require test-time access to sensitive attributes, it can be applied to reduce worst-case classification errors between outcomes in unbalanced classification problems. We test the proposed methodology on real case-studies of predicting income, ICU patient mortality, skin lesions classification, and assessing credit risk, demonstrating how our framework compares favorably to other approaches.

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