Causal inference in degenerate systems: An impossibility result


Yue Wang, Linbo Wang ;
Proceedings of the Twenty Third International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 108:3383-3392, 2020.


Causal relationships among variables are commonly represented via directed acyclic graphs. There are many methods in the literature to quantify the strength of arrows in a causal acyclic graph. These methods, however, have undesirable properties when the causal system represented by a directed acyclic graph is degenerate. In this paper, we characterize a degenerate causal system using multiplicity of Markov boundaries. We show that in this case, it is impossible to find an identifiable quantitative measure of causal effects that satisfy a set of natural criteria. To supplement the impossibility result, we also develop algorithms to identify degenerate causal systems from observed data. Performance of our algorithms is investigated through synthetic data analysis.

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