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A Simple and General Debiased Machine Learning Theorem with Finite Sample Guarantees

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Debiased machine learning is a meta algorithm based on bias correction and sample splitting to calculate confidence intervals for functionals (i.e. scalar summaries) of machine learning algorithms. For example, an analyst may desire the confidence interval for a treatment effect estimated with a neural network. We provide a nonasymptotic debiased machine learning theorem that encompasses any global or local functional of any machine learning algorithm that satisfies a few simple, interpretable conditions. Formally, we prove consistency, Gaussian approximation, and semiparametric efficiency by finite sample arguments. The rate of convergence is root-n for global functionals, and it degrades gracefully for local functionals. Our results culminate in a simple set of conditions that an analyst can use to translate modern learning theory rates into traditional statistical inference. The conditions reveal a new double robustness property for ill posed inverse problems.


Adversarial Estimation of Riesz Representers

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We provide an adversarial approach to estimating Riesz representers of linear functionals within arbitrary function spaces. We prove oracle inequalities based on the localized Rademacher complexity of the function space used to approximate the Riesz representer and the approximation error. These inequalities imply fast finite sample mean-squared-error rates for many function spaces of interest, such as high-dimensional sparse linear functions, neural networks and reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces. Our approach offers a new way of estimating Riesz representers with a plethora of recently introduced machine learning techniques. We show how our estimator can be used in the context of de-biasing structural/causal parameters in semi-parametric models, for automated orthogonalization of moment equations and for estimating the stochastic discount factor in the context of asset pricing.


Generalized Kernel Ridge Regression for Causal Inference with Missing-at-Random Sample Selection

arXiv.org Machine Learning

I propose kernel ridge regression estimators for nonparametric dose response curves and semiparametric treatment effects in the setting where an analyst has access to a selected sample rather than a random sample; only for select observations, the outcome is observed. I assume selection is as good as random conditional on treatment and a sufficiently rich set of observed covariates, where the covariates are allowed to cause treatment or be caused by treatment -- an extension of missingness-at-random (MAR). I propose estimators of means, increments, and distributions of counterfactual outcomes with closed form solutions in terms of kernel matrix operations, allowing treatment and covariates to be discrete or continuous, and low, high, or infinite dimensional. For the continuous treatment case, I prove uniform consistency with finite sample rates. For the discrete treatment case, I prove root-n consistency, Gaussian approximation, and semiparametric efficiency.


Double/De-Biased Machine Learning Using Regularized Riesz Representers

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We provide adaptive inference methods for linear functionals of sparse linear approximations to the conditional expectation function. Examples of such functionals include average derivatives, policy effects, average treatment effects, and many others. The construction relies on building Neyman-orthogonal equations that are approximately invariant to perturbations of the nuisance parameters, including the Riesz representer for the linear functionals. We use L1-regularized methods to learn approximations to the regression function and the Riesz representer, and construct the estimator for the linear functionals as the solution to the orthogonal estimating equations. We establish that under weak assumptions the estimator concentrates in a 1/root n neighborhood of the target with deviations controlled by the normal laws, and the estimator attains the semi-parametric efficiency bound in many cases. In particular, either the approximation to the regression function or the approximation to the Riesz representer can be "dense" as long as one of them is sufficiently "sparse". Our main results are non-asymptotic and imply asymptotic uniform validity over large classes of models.


Kernel Methods for Policy Evaluation: Treatment Effects, Mediation Analysis, and Off-Policy Planning

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We propose a novel framework for non-parametric policy evaluation in static and dynamic settings. Under the assumption of selection on observables, we consider treatment effects of the population, of sub-populations, and of alternative populations that may have alternative covariate distributions. We further consider the decomposition of a total effect into a direct effect and an indirect effect (as mediated by a particular mechanism). Under the assumption of sequential selection on observables, we consider the effects of sequences of treatments. Across settings, we allow for treatments that may be discrete, continuous, or even text. Across settings, we allow for estimation of not only counterfactual mean outcomes but also counterfactual distributions of outcomes. We unify analyses across settings by showing that all of these causal learning problems reduce to the re-weighting of a prediction, i.e. causal adjustment. We implement the re-weighting as an inner product in a function space called a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS), with a closed form solution that can be computed in one line of code. We prove uniform consistency and provide finite sample rates of convergence. We evaluate our estimators in simulations devised by other authors. We use our new estimators to evaluate continuous and heterogeneous treatment effects of the US Jobs Corps training program for disadvantaged youth.