Causal discovery from nonstationary/heterogeneous data : skeleton estimation and orientation determination

Abstract

It is commonplace to encounter nonstationary or heterogeneous data, of which the underlying generating process changes over time or across data sets. Such a distribution shift feature presents both challenges and opportunities for causal discovery. In this paper we develop a principled framework for causal discovery from such data, called Constraint-based causal Discovery from Nonstationary/heterogeneous Data, which addresses two important questions. First, we propose an enhanced constraint-based procedure to detect variables whose local mechanisms change and recover the skeleton of the causal structure over observed variables. Second, we present a way to determine causal orientations by making use of independence changes in the data distribution implied by the underlying causal model, benefiting from information carried by changing distributions. Experimental results on various synthetic and real-world data sets are presented to demonstrate the efficacy of our methods.

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Jiji Zhang
Lingnan University

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