Causal Feature Selection for Algorithmic Fairness

The use of machine learning (ML) in high-stakes societal decisions has encouraged the consideration of fairness throughout the ML lifecycle. Although data integration is one of the primary steps to generate high quality training data, most of the fairness literature ignores this stage. In this work, we consider fairness in the integration component of data management, aiming to identify features that improve prediction without adding any bias to the dataset. We work under the causal interventional fairness paradigm. Without requiring the underlying structural causal model a priori, we propose an approach to identify a sub-collection of features that ensure the fairness of the dataset by performing conditional independence tests between different subsets of features. We use group testing to improve the complexity of the approach. We theoretically prove the correctness of the proposed algorithm to identify features that ensure interventional fairness and show that sub-linear conditional independence tests are sufficient to identify these variables. A detailed empirical evaluation is performed on real-world datasets to demonstrate the efficacy and efficiency of our technique.

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