Actively Identifying Causal Effects with Latent Variables Given Only Response Variable Observable

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Tian-Zuo Wang, Zhi-Hua Zhou


In many real tasks, it is generally desired to study the causal effect on a specific target (response variable) only, with no need to identify the thorough causal effects involving all variables. In this paper, we attempt to identify such effects by a few active interventions where only the response variable is observable. This task is challenging because the causal graph is unknown and even there may exist latent confounders. To learn the necessary structure for identifying the effects, we provide the graphical characterization that allows us to efficiently estimate all possible causal effects in a partially mixed ancestral graph (PMAG) by generalized back-door criterion. The characterization guides learning a local structure with the interventional data. Theoretical analysis and empirical studies validate the effectiveness and efficiency of our proposed approach.