Incorporating Causal Graphical Prior Knowledge into Predictive Modeling via Simple Data Augmentation

27 Feb 2021  ·  Takeshi Teshima, Masashi Sugiyama ·

Causal graphs (CGs) are compact representations of the knowledge of the data generating processes behind the data distributions. When a CG is available, e.g., from the domain knowledge, we can infer the conditional independence (CI) relations that should hold in the data distribution. However, it is not straightforward how to incorporate this knowledge into predictive modeling. In this work, we propose a model-agnostic data augmentation method that allows us to exploit the prior knowledge of the CI encoded in a CG for supervised machine learning. We theoretically justify the proposed method by providing an excess risk bound indicating that the proposed method suppresses overfitting by reducing the apparent complexity of the predictor hypothesis class. Using real-world data with CGs provided by domain experts, we experimentally show that the proposed method is effective in improving the prediction accuracy, especially in the small-data regime.

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