Using Embeddings to Correct for Unobserved Confounding in Networks

Victor Veitch, Yixin Wang, David M. Blei

We consider causal inference in the presence of unobserved confounding. We study the case where a proxy is available for the unobserved confounding in the form of a network connecting the units. For example, the link structure of a social network carries information about its members. We show how to effectively use the proxy to do causal inference. The main idea is to reduce the causal estimation problem to a semi-supervised prediction of both the treatments and outcomes. Networks admit high-quality embedding models that can be used for this semi-supervised prediction. We show that the method yields valid inferences under suitable (weak) conditions on the quality of the predictive model. We validate the method with experiments on a semi-synthetic social network dataset. Code is available at github.com/vveitch/causal-network-embeddings.

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