NIPS Proceedingsβ

Counterfactual Gaussian Processes for Reliable Decision-making and What-if Reasoning

Part of: Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017) pre-proceedings


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Conference Event Type: Oral


Answering "What if?" questions is important in many domains. For example, would a patient's disease progression slow down if I were to give them a dose of drug A? Ideally, we answer our question using an experiment, but this is not always possible (e.g., it may be unethical). As an alternative, we can use non-experimental data to learn models that make counterfactual predictions of what we would observe had we run an experiment. In this paper, we propose the counterfactual GP, a counterfactual model of continuous-time trajectories (time series) under sequences of actions taken in continuous-time. We develop our model within the potential outcomes framework of Neyman and Rubin. The counterfactual GP is trained using a joint maximum likelihood objective that adjusts for dependencies between observed actions and outcomes in the training data. We report two sets of experimental results using the counterfactual GP. The first shows that it can be used to learn the natural progression (i.e. untreated progression) of biomarker trajectories from observational data. In the second, we show how the CGP can be used for medical decision support by learning counterfactual models of renal health under different types of dialysis.