Keywords: [ MISC: Causality ]
Traditional causal discovery methods mainly focus on estimating causal relations among measured variables, but in many real-world problems, such as questionnaire-based psychometric studies, measured variables are generated by latent variables that are causally related. Accordingly, this paper investigates the problem of discovering the hidden causal variables and estimating the causal structure, including both the causal relations among latent variables and those between latent and measured variables. We relax the frequently-used measurement assumption and allow the children of latent variables to be latent as well, and hence deal with a specific type of latent hierarchical causal structure. In particular, we define a minimal latent hierarchical structure and show that for linear non-Gaussian models with the minimal latent hierarchical structure, the whole structure is identifiable from only the measured variables. Moreover, we develop a principled method to identify the structure by testing for Generalized Independent Noise (GIN) conditions in specific ways. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world data show the effectiveness of the proposed approach.