Subbaswamy, Adarsh, Saria, Suchi

Shifts in environment between development and deployment cause classical supervised learning to produce models that fail to generalize well to new target distributions. Recently, many solutions which find invariant predictive distributions have been developed. Among these, graph-based approaches do not require data from the target environment and can capture more stable information than alternative methods which find stable feature sets. However, these approaches assume that the data generating process is known in the form of a full causal graph, which is generally not the case. In this paper, we propose I-SPEC, an end-to-end framework that addresses this shortcoming by using data to learn a partial ancestral graph (PAG). Using the PAG we develop an algorithm that determines an interventional distribution that is stable to the declared shifts; this subsumes existing approaches which find stable feature sets that are less accurate. We apply I-SPEC to a mortality prediction problem to show it can learn a model that is robust to shifts without needing upfront knowledge of the full causal DAG.

Magliacane, Sara, van Ommen, Thijs, Claassen, Tom, Bongers, Stephan, Versteeg, Philip, Mooij, Joris M.

An important goal in both transfer learning and causal inference is to make accurate predictions when the distribution of the test set and the training set(s) differ. Such a distribution shift may happen as a result of an external intervention on the data generating process, causing certain aspects of the distribution to change, and others to remain invariant. We consider a class of causal transfer learning problems, where multiple training sets are given that correspond to different external interventions, and the task is to predict the distribution of a target variable given measurements of other variables for a new (yet unseen) intervention on the system. We propose a method for solving these problems that exploits causal reasoning but does neither rely on prior knowledge of the causal graph, nor on the the type of interventions and their targets. We evaluate the method on simulated and real world data and find that it outperforms a standard prediction method that ignores the distribution shift.

Subbaswamy, Adarsh, Schulam, Peter, Saria, Suchi

Classical supervised learning produces unreliable models when training and target distributions differ, with most existing solutions requiring samples from the target domain. We propose a proactive approach which learns a relationship in the training domain that will generalize to the target domain by incorporating prior knowledge of aspects of the data generating process that are expected to differ as expressed in a causal selection diagram. Specifically, we remove variables generated by unstable mechanisms from the joint factorization to yield the Graph Surgery Estimator---an interventional distribution that is invariant to the differences across domains. We prove that the surgery estimator finds stable relationships in strictly more scenarios than previous approaches which only consider conditional relationships, and demonstrate this in simulated experiments. We also evaluate on real world data for which the true causal diagram is unknown, performing competitively against entirely data-driven approaches.

Magliacane, Sara, Ommen, Thijs van, Claassen, Tom, Bongers, Stephan, Versteeg, Philip, Mooij, Joris M.

An important goal common to domain adaptation and causal inference is to make accurate predictions when the distributions for the source (or training) domain(s) and target (or test) domain(s) differ. In many cases, these different distributions can be modeled as different contexts of a single underlying system, in which each distribution corresponds to a different perturbation of the system, or in causal terms, an intervention. We focus on a class of such causal domain adaptation problems, where data for one or more source domains are given, and the task is to predict the distribution of a certain target variable from measurements of other variables in one or more target domains. We propose an approach for solving these problems that exploits causal inference and does not rely on prior knowledge of the causal graph, the type of interventions or the intervention targets. We demonstrate our approach by evaluating a possible implementation on simulated and real world data.

Magliacane, Sara, Ommen, Thijs van, Claassen, Tom, Bongers, Stephan, Versteeg, Philip, Mooij, Joris M.