Causal Effect Identification from Multiple Incomplete Data Sources: A General Search-based Approach

Santtu Tikka, Antti Hyttinen, Juha Karvanen

Causal effect identification considers whether an interventional probability distribution can be uniquely determined without parametric assumptions from measured source distributions and structural knowledge on the generating system. While complete graphical criteria and procedures exist for many identification problems, there are still challenging but important extensions that have not been considered in the literature. To tackle these new settings, we present a search algorithm directly over the rules of do-calculus. Due to generality of do-calculus, the search is capable of taking more advanced data-generating mechanisms into account along with an arbitrary type of both observational and experimental source distributions. The search is enhanced via a heuristic and search space reduction techniques. The approach, called do-search, is provably sound, and it is complete with respect to identifiability problems that have been shown to be completely characterized by do-calculus. When extended with additional rules, the search is capable of handling missing data problems as well. With the versatile search, we are able to approach new problems such as combined transportability and selection bias, or multiple sources of selection bias. We perform a systematic analysis of bivariate missing data problems and study causal inference under case-control design. We also present the R package dosearch that provides an interface for a C++ implementation of the search.

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