CETransformer: Casual Effect Estimation via Transformer Based Representation Learning

Zhenyu Guo, Shuai Zheng, Zhizhe Liu, Kun Yan, Zhenfeng Zhu

Treatment effect estimation, which refers to the estimation of causal effects and aims to measure the strength of the causal relationship, is of great importance in many fields but is a challenging problem in practice. As present, data-driven causal effect estimation faces two main challenges, i.e., selection bias and the missing of counterfactual. To address these two issues, most of the existing approaches tend to reduce the selection bias by learning a balanced representation, and then to estimate the counterfactual through the representation. However, they heavily rely on the finely hand-crafted metric functions when learning balanced representations, which generally doesn't work well for the situations where the original distribution is complicated. In this paper, we propose a CETransformer model for casual effect estimation via transformer based representation learning. To learn the representation of covariates(features) robustly, a self-supervised transformer is proposed, by which the correlation between covariates can be well exploited through self-attention mechanism. In addition, an adversarial network is adopted to balance the distribution of the treated and control groups in the representation space. Experimental results on three real-world datasets demonstrate the advantages of the proposed CETransformer, compared with the state-of-the-art treatment effect estimation methods.

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