A Neural Network Framework for Fair Classifier

P Manisha, Sujit Gujar

Machine learning models are extensively being used in decision making, especially for prediction tasks. These models could be biased or unfair towards a specific sensitive group either of a specific race, gender or age. Researchers have put efforts into characterizing a particular definition of fairness and enforcing them into the models. In this work, mainly we are concerned with the following three definitions, Disparate Impact, Demographic Parity and Equalized Odds. Researchers have shown that Equalized Odds cannot be satisfied in calibrated classifiers unless the classifier is perfect. Hence the primary challenge is to ensure a degree of fairness while guaranteeing as much accuracy as possible. Fairness constraints are complex and need not be convex. Incorporating them into a machine learning algorithm is a significant challenge. Hence, many researchers have tried to come up with a surrogate loss which is convex in order to build fair classifiers. Besides, certain papers try to build fair representations by preprocessing the data, irrespective of the classifier used. Such methods, not only require a lot of unrealistic assumptions but also require human engineered analytical solutions to build a machine learning model. We instead propose an automated solution which is generalizable over any fairness constraint. We use a neural network which is trained on batches and directly enforces the fairness constraint as the loss function without modifying it further. We have also experimented with other complex performance measures such as H-mean loss, Q-mean-loss, F-measure; without the need for any surrogate loss functions. Our experiments prove that the network achieves similar performance as state of the art. Thus, one can just plug-in appropriate loss function as per required fairness constraint and performance measure of the classifier and train a neural network to achieve that.

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