Certification of Distributional Individual Fairness

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Matthew Wicker, Vihari Piratla, Adrian Weller


Providing formal guarantees of algorithmic fairness is of paramount importance to socially responsible deployment of machine learning algorithms. In this work, we study formal guarantees, i.e., certificates, for individual fairness (IF) of neural networks. We start by introducing a novel convex approximation of IF constraints that exponentially decreases the computational cost of providing formal guarantees of local individual fairness. We highlight that prior methods are constrained by their focus on global IF certification and can therefore only scale to models with a few dozen hidden neurons, thus limiting their practical impact. We propose to certify \textit{distributional} individual fairness which ensures that for a given empirical distribution and all distributions within a $\gamma$-Wasserstein ball, the neural network has guaranteed individually fair predictions. Leveraging developments in quasi-convex optimization, we provide novel and efficient certified bounds on distributional individual fairness and show that our method allows us to certify and regularize neural networks that are several orders of magnitude larger than those considered by prior works. Moreover, we study real-world distribution shifts and find our bounds to be a scalable, practical, and sound source of IF guarantees.