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Purdue University

Abstract:Testing a hypothesized causal model against observational data is a key prerequisite for many causal inference tasks. A natural approach is to test whether the conditional independence relations (CIs) assumed in the model hold in the data. While a model can assume exponentially many CIs (with respect to the number of variables), testing all of them is both impractical and unnecessary. Causal graphs, which encode these CIs in polynomial space, give rise to local Markov properties that enable model testing with a significantly smaller subset of CIs. Model testing based on local properties requires an algorithm to list the relevant CIs. However, existing algorithms for realistic settings with hidden variables and non-parametric distributions can take exponential time to produce even a single CI constraint. In this paper, we introduce the c-component local Markov property (C-LMP) for causal graphs with hidden variables. Since C-LMP can still invoke an exponential number of CIs, we develop a polynomial delay algorithm to list these CIs in poly-time intervals. To our knowledge, this is the first algorithm that enables poly-delay testing of CIs in causal graphs with hidden variables against arbitrary data distributions. Experiments on real-world and synthetic data demonstrate the practicality of our algorithm.

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Abstract:Identifying the effects of new interventions from data is a significant challenge found across a wide range of the empirical sciences. A well-known strategy for identifying such effects is Pearl's front-door (FD) criterion (Pearl, 1995). The definition of the FD criterion is declarative, only allowing one to decide whether a specific set satisfies the criterion. In this paper, we present algorithms for finding and enumerating possible sets satisfying the FD criterion in a given causal diagram. These results are useful in facilitating the practical applications of the FD criterion for causal effects estimation and helping scientists to select estimands with desired properties, e.g., based on cost, feasibility of measurement, or statistical power.

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