Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)
Biwei Huang, Kun Zhang, Pengtao Xie, Mingming Gong, Eric P. Xing, Clark Glymour
State-of-the-art approaches to causal discovery usually assume a fixed underlying causal model. However, it is often the case that causal models vary across domains or subjects, due to possibly omitted factors that affect the quantitative causal effects. As a typical example, causal connectivity in the brain network has been reported to vary across individuals, with significant differences across groups of people, such as autistics and typical controls. In this paper, we develop a unified framework for causal discovery and mechanism-based group identification. In particular, we propose a specific and shared causal model (SSCM), which takes into account the variabilities of causal relations across individuals/groups and leverages their commonalities to achieve statistically reliable estimation. The learned SSCM gives the specific causal knowledge for each individual as well as the general trend over the population. In addition, the estimated model directly provides the group information of each individual. Experimental results on synthetic and real-world data demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed method.