PC-Fairness: A Unified Framework for Measuring Causality-based Fairness

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Yongkai Wu, Lu Zhang, Xintao Wu, Hanghang Tong


A recent trend of fair machine learning is to define fairness as causality-based notions which concern the causal connection between protected attributes and decisions. However, one common challenge of all causality-based fairness notions is identifiability, i.e., whether they can be uniquely measured from observational data, which is a critical barrier to applying these notions to real-world situations. In this paper, we develop a framework for measuring different causality-based fairness. We propose a unified definition that covers most of previous causality-based fairness notions, namely the path-specific counterfactual fairness (PC fairness). Based on that, we propose a general method in the form of a constrained optimization problem for bounding the path-specific counterfactual fairness under all unidentifiable situations. Experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets show the correctness and effectiveness of our method.