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 investigate the problem of estimating the causal effect of a treatment on individual subjects from observational data, this is a central problem in various application domains, including healthcare, social sciences, and online advertising. Within the Neyman Rubin potential outcomes model, we use the Kullback Leibler (KL) divergence between the estimated and true distributions as a measure of accuracy of the estimate, and we define the information rate of the Bayesian causal inference procedure as the (asymptotic equivalence class of the) expected value of the KL divergence between the estimated and true distributions as a function of the number of samples. Using Fano method, we establish a fundamental limit on the information rate that can be achieved by any Bayesian estimator, and show that this fundamental limit is independent of the selection bias in the observational data. We characterize the Bayesian priors on the potential (factual and counterfactual) outcomes that achieve the optimal information rate. As a consequence, we show that a particular class of priors that have been widely used in the causal inference literature cannot achieve the optimal information rate. On the other hand, a broader class of priors can achieve the optimal information rate. We go on to propose a prior adaptation procedure (which we call the information based empirical Bayes procedure) that optimizes the Bayesian prior by maximizing an information theoretic criterion on the recovered causal effects rather than maximizing the marginal likelihood of the observed (factual) data. Building on our analysis, we construct an information optimal Bayesian causal inference algorithm.
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.
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.
We propose a novel approach for inferring the individualized causal effects of a treatment (intervention) from observational data. Our approach conceptualizes causal inference as a multitask learning problem; we model a subject's potential outcomes using a deep multitask network with a set of shared layers among the factual and counterfactual outcomes, and a set of outcome-specific layers. The impact of selection bias in the observational data is alleviated via a propensity-dropout regularization scheme, in which the network is thinned for every training example via a dropout probability that depends on the associated propensity score. The network is trained in alternating phases, where in each phase we use the training examples of one of the two potential outcomes (treated and control populations) to update the weights of the shared layers and the respective outcome-specific layers. Experiments conducted on data based on a real-world observational study show that our algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art.