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Generalization Bounds for Estimating Causal Effects of Continuous Treatments

Xin Wang · Shengfei Lyu · Xingyu Wu · Tianhao Wu · Huanhuan Chen

Keywords: [ causal effect ] [ dose-response ] [ continuous treatment ] [ selection bias ] [ Causal Inference ]


We focus on estimating causal effects of continuous treatments (e.g., dosage in medicine), also known as dose-response function. Existing methods in causal inference for continuous treatments using neural networks are effective and to some extent reduce selection bias, which is introduced by non-randomized treatments among individuals and might lead to covariate imbalance and thus unreliable inference. To theoretically support the alleviation of selection bias in the setting of continuous treatments, we exploit the re-weighting schema and the Integral Probability Metric (IPM) distance to derive an upper bound on the counterfactual loss of estimating the average dose-response function (ADRF), and herein the IPM distance builds a bridge from a source (factual) domain to an infinite number of target (counterfactual) domains. We provide a discretized approximation of the IPM distance with a theoretical guarantee in the practical implementation. Based on the theoretical analyses, we also propose a novel algorithm, called Average Dose- response estiMatIon via re-weighTing schema (ADMIT). ADMIT simultaneously learns a re-weighting network, which aims to alleviate the selection bias, and an inference network, which makes factual and counterfactual estimations. In addition, the effectiveness of ADMIT is empirically demonstrated in both synthetic and semi-synthetic experiments by outperforming the existing benchmarks.

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