A Causal Dirichlet Mixture Model for Causal Inference from Observational Data

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
ACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology, 2020, 11, (3), pp. 1-29
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© 2020 ACM. Estimating causal effects by making causal inferences from observational data is common practice in scientific studies, business decision-making, and daily life. In today's data-driven world, causal inference has become a key part of the evaluation process for many purposes, such as examining the effects of medicine or the impact of an economic policy on society. However, although the literature contains some excellent models, there is room to improve their representation power and their ability to capture complex relationships. For these reasons, we propose a novel prior called Causal DP and a model called CDP. The prior captures the complex relationships between covariates, treatments, and outcomes in observational data using a rational probabilistic dependency structure. The model is Bayesian, nonparametric, and generative and is not based on the assumption of any parametric distribution. CDP is designed to estimate various kinds of causal effects - average, conditional average, average treated, quantile, and so on. It performs well with missing covariates and does not suffer from overfitting. Comparative experiments on synthetic datasets against several state-of-the-art methods demonstrate that CDP has a superior ability to capture complex relationships. Further, a simple evaluation to infer the effect of a job training program on trainee earnings from real-world data shows that CDP is both effective and useful for causal inference.
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