Predicated on the increasing abundance of electronic health records, we investigate the problem of inferring individualized treatment effects using observational data. Stemming from the potential outcomes model, we propose a novel multi-task learning framework in which factual and counterfactual outcomes are modeled as the outputs of a function in a vector-valued reproducing kernel Hilbert space (vvRKHS). We develop a nonparametric Bayesian method for learning the treatment effects using a multi-task Gaussian process (GP) with a linear coregionalization kernel as a prior over the vvRKHS. The Bayesian approach allows us to compute individualized measures of confidence in our estimates via pointwise credible intervals, which are crucial for realizing the full potential of precision medicine. The impact of selection bias is alleviated via a risk-based empirical Bayes method for adapting the multi-task GP prior, which jointly minimizes the empirical error in factual outcomes and the uncertainty in (unobserved) counterfactual outcomes. We conduct experiments on observational datasets for an interventional social program applied to premature infants, and a left ventricular assist device applied to cardiac patients wait-listed for a heart transplant. In both experiments, we show that our method significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art.
The choice of making an intervention depends on its potential benefit or harm in comparison to alternatives. Estimating the likely outcome of alternatives from observational data is a challenging problem as all outcomes are never observed, and selection bias precludes the direct comparison of differently intervened groups. Despite their empirical success, we show that algorithms that learn domain-invariant representations of inputs (on which to make predictions) are often inappropriate, and develop generalization bounds that demonstrate the dependence on domain overlap and highlight the need for invertible latent maps. Based on these results, we develop a deep kernel regression algorithm and posterior regularization framework that substantially outperforms the state-of-the-art on a variety of benchmarks data sets.
Bayesian approaches have become increasingly popular in causal inference problems due to their conceptual simplicity, excellent performance and in-built uncertainty quantification ('posterior credible sets'). We investigate Bayesian inference for average treatment effects from observational data, which is a challenging problem due to the missing counterfactuals and selection bias. Working in the standard potential outcomes framework, we propose a data-driven modification to an arbitrary (nonparametric) prior based on the propensity score that corrects for the first-order posterior bias, thereby improving performance. We illustrate our method for Gaussian process (GP) priors using (semi-)synthetic data. Our experiments demonstrate significant improvement in both estimation accuracy and uncertainty quantification compared to the unmodified GP, rendering our approach highly competitive with the state-of-the-art.
Learning causal effects from observational data greatly benefits a variety of domains such as healthcare, education and sociology. For instance, one could estimate the impact of a policy to decrease unemployment rate. The central problem for causal effect inference is dealing with the unobserved counterfactuals and treatment selection bias. The state-of-the-art approaches focus on solving these problems by balancing the treatment and control groups. However, during the learning and balancing process, highly predictive information from the original covariate space might be lost. In order to build more robust estimators, we tackle this information loss problem by presenting a method called Adversarial Balancing-based representation learning for Causal Effect Inference (ABCEI), based on the recent advances in deep learning. ABCEI uses adversarial learning to balance the distributions of treatment and control group in the latent representation space, without any assumption on the form of the treatment selection/assignment function. ABCEI preserves useful information for predicting causal effects under the regularization of a mutual information estimator. We conduct various experiments on several synthetic and real-world datasets. The experimental results show that ABCEI is robust against treatment selection bias, and matches/outperforms the state-of-the-art approaches.
Causal inference is a critical research topic across many domains, such as statistics, computer science, education, public policy and economics, for decades. Nowadays, estimating causal effect from observational data has become an appealing research direction owing to the large amount of available data and low budget requirement, compared with randomized controlled trials. Embraced with the rapidly developed machine learning area, various causal effect estimation methods for observational data have sprung up. In this survey, we provide a comprehensive review of causal inference methods under the potential outcome framework, one of the well known causal inference framework. The methods are divided into two categories depending on whether they require all three assumptions of the potential outcome framework or not. For each category, both the traditional statistical methods and the recent machine learning enhanced methods are discussed and compared. The plausible applications of these methods are also presented, including the applications in advertising, recommendation, medicine and so on. Moreover, the commonly used benchmark datasets as well as the open-source codes are also summarized, which facilitate researchers and practitioners to explore, evaluate and apply the causal inference methods.