Inference of Cause and Effect with Unsupervised Inverse Regression

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Eleni Sgouritsa, Dominik Janzing, Philipp Hennig, Bernhard Schölkopf ;
Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 38:847-855, 2015.

Abstract

We address the problem of causal discovery in the two-variable case given a sample from their joint distribution. The proposed method is based on a known assumption that, if X -> Y (X causes Y), the marginal distribution of the cause, P(X), contains no information about the conditional distribution P(Y|X). Consequently, estimating P(Y|X) from P(X) should not be possible. However, estimating P(X|Y) based on P(Y) may be possible. This paper employs this asymmetry to propose CURE, a causal discovery method which decides upon the causal direction by comparing the accuracy of the estimations of P(Y|X) and P(X|Y). To this end, we propose a method for estimating a conditional from samples of the corresponding marginal, which we call unsupervised inverse GP regression. We evaluate CURE on synthetic and real data. On the latter, our method outperforms existing causal inference methods.

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