Causal Effect Identifiability under Partial-Observability

Sanghack Lee, Elias Bareinboim,


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Causal effect identifiability is concerned with establishing the effect of intervening on a set of variables on another set of variables from observational or interventional distributions under causal assumptions that are usually encoded in the form of a causal graph. Most of the results of this literature implicitly assume that every variable modeled in the graph is measured in the available distributions. In practice, however, the data collections of the different studies considered do not measure the same variables, consistently. In this paper, we study the causal effect identifiability problem when the available distributions encompass different sets of variables, which we refer to as identification under partial-observability. We study a number of properties of the factors that comprise a causal effect under various levels of abstraction, and then characterize the relationship between them with respect to their status relative to the identification of a targeted intervention. We establish a sufficient graphical criterion for determining whether the effects are identifiable from partially-observed distributions. Finally, building on these graphical properties, we develop an algorithm that returns a formula for a causal effect in terms of the available distributions.

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