Kernel Instrumental Variable Regression

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Rahul Singh, Maneesh Sahani, Arthur Gretton


<p>Instrumental variable (IV) regression is a strategy for learning causal relationships in observational data. If measurements of input X and output Y are confounded, the causal relationship can nonetheless be identified if an instrumental variable Z is available that influences X directly, but is conditionally independent of Y given X and the unmeasured confounder. The classic two-stage least squares algorithm (2SLS) simplifies the estimation problem by modeling all relationships as linear functions. We propose kernel instrumental variable regression (KIV), a nonparametric generalization of 2SLS, modeling relations among X, Y, and Z as nonlinear functions in reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHSs). We prove the consistency of KIV under mild assumptions, and derive conditions under which convergence occurs at the minimax optimal rate for unconfounded, single-stage RKHS regression. In doing so, we obtain an efficient ratio between training sample sizes used in the algorithm's first and second stages. In experiments, KIV outperforms state of the art alternatives for nonparametric IV regression.</p>