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Tier Balancing: Towards Dynamic Fairness over Underlying Causal Factors
Zeyu Tang · Yatong Chen · Yang Liu · Kun Zhang

The pursuit of long-term fairness involves the interplay between decision-making and the underlying data generating process. In this paper, through causal modeling with a directed acyclic graph (DAG) on the decision-distribution interplay, we investigate the possibility of achieving long-term fairness from a dynamic perspective. We propose \emph{Tier Balancing}, a technically more challenging but more natural notion to achieve in the context of long-term, dynamic fairness analysis. Different from previous fairness notions that are defined purely on observed variables, our notion goes one step further and deeper, capturing behind-the-scenes situation changes on the unobserved latent causal factors that directly carry out the influence from the current decision to the future data distribution. Under the specified dynamics, we prove that in general one cannot achieve the long-term fairness goal only through one-step interventions. Furthermore, in the effort of approaching long-term fairness, we consider the mission of "getting closer to" the long-term fairness goal and present possibility and impossibility results accordingly.

Author Information

Zeyu Tang (Carnegie Mellon University)
Yatong Chen (UC Santa Cruz, Google Brain)
Yang Liu (UC Santa Cruz)
Kun Zhang (CMU & MBZUAI)

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