NIPS Proceedingsβ

On Fairness and Calibration

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

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Conference Event Type: Poster


The machine learning community has become increasingly concerned with the potential for bias and discrimination in predictive models. This has motivated a growing line of work on what it means for a classification procedure to be "fair." In this paper, we investigate the tension between minimizing error disparity across different population groups while maintaining calibrated probability estimates. We show that calibration is compatible only with a single error constraint (i.e. equal false-negatives rates across groups), and show that any algorithm that satisfies this relaxation is no better than randomizing a percentage of predictions for an existing classifier. These unsettling findings, which extend and generalize existing results, are empirically confirmed on several datasets.