Robust Recursive Partitioning for Heterogeneous Treatment Effects with Uncertainty Quantification

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Hyun-Suk Lee, Yao Zhang, William Zame, Cong Shen, Jang-Won Lee, Mihaela van der Schaar


<p>Subgroup analysis of treatment effects plays an important role in applications from medicine to public policy to recommender systems. It allows physicians (for example) to identify groups of patients for whom a given drug or treatment is likely to be effective and groups of patients for which it is not. Most of the current methods of subgroup analysis begin with a particular algorithm for estimating individualized treatment effects (ITE) and identify subgroups by maximizing the difference across subgroups of the average treatment effect in each subgroup. These approaches have several weaknesses: they rely on a particular algorithm for estimating ITE, they ignore (in)homogeneity within identified subgroups, and they do not produce good confidence estimates. This paper develops a new method for subgroup analysis, R2P, that addresses all these weaknesses. R2P uses an arbitrary, exogenously prescribed algorithm for estimating ITE and quantifies the uncertainty of the ITE estimation, using a construction that is more robust than other methods. Experiments using synthetic and semi-synthetic datasets (based on real data) demonstrate that R2P constructs partitions that are simultaneously more homogeneous within groups and more heterogeneous across groups than the partitions produced by other methods. Moreover, because R2P can employ any ITE estimator, it also produces much narrower confidence intervals with a prescribed coverage guarantee than other methods.</p>