Nonconvex Optimization for Regression with Fairness Constraints

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Junpei Komiyama, Akiko Takeda, Junya Honda, Hajime Shimao ;
Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:2737-2746, 2018.

Abstract

The unfairness of a regressor is evaluated by measuring the correlation between the estimator and the sensitive attribute (e.g., race, gender, age), and the coefficient of determination (CoD) is a natural extension of the correlation coefficient when more than one sensitive attribute exists. As is well known, there is a trade-off between fairness and accuracy of a regressor, which implies a perfectly fair optimizer does not always yield a useful prediction. Taking this into consideration, we optimize the accuracy of the estimation subject to a user-defined level of fairness. However, a fairness level as a constraint induces a nonconvexity of the feasible region, which disables the use of an off-the-shelf convex optimizer. Despite such nonconvexity, we show an exact solution is available by using tools of global optimization theory. Furthermore, we propose a nonlinear extension of the method by kernel representation. Unlike most of existing fairness-aware machine learning methods, our method allows us to deal with numeric and multiple sensitive attributes.

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