Strobl, Eric V., Visweswaran, Shyam

Ridge regularized linear models (RRLMs), such as ridge regression and the SVM, are a popular group of methods that are used in conjunction with coefficient hypothesis testing to discover explanatory variables with a significant multivariate association to a response. However, many investigators are reluctant to draw causal interpretations of the selected variables due to the incomplete knowledge of the capabilities of RRLMs in causal inference. Under reasonable assumptions, we show that a modified form of RRLMs can get very close to identifying a subset of the Markov boundary by providing a worst-case bound on the space of possible solutions. The results hold for any convex loss, even when the underlying functional relationship is nonlinear, and the solution is not unique. Our approach combines ideas in Markov boundary and sufficient dimension reduction theory. Experimental results show that the modified RRLMs are competitive against state-of-the-art algorithms in discovering part of the Markov boundary from gene expression data.

Bradic, Jelena, Claeskens, Gerda, Gueuning, Thomas

Many scientific and engineering challenges -- ranging from pharmacokinetic drug dosage allocation and personalized medicine to marketing mix (4Ps) recommendations -- require an understanding of the unobserved heterogeneity in order to develop the best decision making-processes. In this paper, we develop a hypothesis test and the corresponding p-value for testing for the significance of the homogeneous structure in linear mixed models. A robust matching moment construction is used for creating a test that adapts to the size of the model sparsity. When unobserved heterogeneity at a cluster level is constant, we show that our test is both consistent and unbiased even when the dimension of the model is extremely high. Our theoretical results rely on a new family of adaptive sparse estimators of the fixed effects that do not require consistent estimation of the random effects. Moreover, our inference results do not require consistent model selection. We showcase that moment matching can be extended to nonlinear mixed effects models and to generalized linear mixed effects models. In numerical and real data experiments, we find that the developed method is extremely accurate, that it adapts to the size of the underlying model and is decidedly powerful in the presence of irrelevant covariates.

We consider the problem of predicting several response variables using the same set of explanatory variables. This setting naturally induces a group structure over the coefficient matrix, in which every explanatory variable corresponds to a set of related coefficients. Most of the existing methods that utilize this group formation assume that the similarities between related coefficients arise solely through a joint sparsity structure. In this paper, we propose a procedure for constructing an estimator of a multivariate regression coefficient matrix that directly models and captures the within-group similarities, by employing a multivariate linear mixed model formulation, with joint estimation of covariance matrices for coefficients and errors via penalized likelihood. Our approach, which we term Multivariate random Regression with Covariance Estimation (MrRCE) encourages structured similarity in parameters, in which coefficients for the same variable in related tasks sharing the same sign and similar magnitude. We illustrate the benefits of our approach in synthetic and real examples, and show that the proposed method outperforms natural competitors and alternative estimators under several model settings.

Huang, Tzu-kuo, Schneider, Jeff G.

Vector Auto-regressive models (VAR) are useful tools for analyzing time series data. In quite a few modern time series modelling tasks, the collection of reliable time series turns out to be a major challenge, either due to the slow progression of the dynamic process of interest, or inaccessibility of repetitive measurements of the same dynamic process over time. In those situations, however, we observe that it is often easier to collect a large amount of non-sequence samples, or snapshots of the dynamic process of interest. In this work, we assume a small amount of time series data are available, and propose methods to incorporate non-sequence data into penalized least-square estimation of VAR models. We consider non-sequence data as samples drawn from the stationary distribution of the underlying VAR model, and devise a novel penalization scheme based on the discrete-time Lyapunov equation concerning the covariance of the stationary distribution. Experiments on synthetic and video data demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methods.

I argue that regularizing terms in standard regression methods not only help against overfitting finite data, but sometimes also yield better causal models in the infinite sample regime. I first consider a multi-dimensional variable linearly influencing a target variable with some multi-dimensional unobserved common cause, where the confounding effect can be decreased by keeping the penalizing term in Ridge and Lasso regression even in the population limit. Choosing the size of the penalizing term, is however challenging, because cross validation is pointless. Here it is done by first estimating the strength of confounding via a method proposed earlier, which yielded some reasonable results for simulated and real data. Further, I prove a `causal generalization bound' which states (subject to a particular model of confounding) that the error made by interpreting any non-linear regression as causal model can be bounded from above whenever functions are taken from a not too rich class. In other words, the bound guarantees "generalization" from observational to interventional distributions, which is usually not subject of statistical learning theory (and is only possible due to the underlying symmetries of the confounder model).