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All campus events (including Division of Extension sponsored events outside of Dane County) are canceled through June 30, with limited exceptions to be granted by deans or vice chancellors. Even if an event is not yet labeled as canceled, it's likely to be canceled, postponed or modified to online only, from now through June 30. Please check with organizers before attending.

Seminar: The Blessings of Multiple Causes

Yixin Wang: PhD Candidate, Statistics Department, Columbia University

Event Details

Thursday, February 20, 2020
4-5 p.m.

Abstract: Causal inference from observational data is a vital problem, but it
comes with strong assumptions. Most methods assume that we observe all
confounders, variables that affect both the causal variables and the
outcome variables. But whether we have observed all confounders is a
famously untestable assumption. We describe the deconfounder, a way to
do causal inference from observational data allowing for unobserved

How does the deconfounder work? The deconfounder is designed for
problems of multiple causal inferences: scientific studies that
involve many causes whose effects are simultaneously of interest. The
deconfounder uses the correlation among causes as evidence for
unobserved confounders, combining unsupervised machine learning and
predictive model checking to perform causal inference. We study the
theoretical requirements for the deconfounder to provide unbiased
causal estimates, along with its limitations and tradeoffs. We
demonstrate the deconfounder on real-world data and simulation

Bio: Yixin Wang is a PhD student in the Statistics Department of
Columbia University, advised by Professor David Blei. Her research
interests lie in Bayesian statistics, machine learning, and causal
inference. Prior to Columbia, she completed undergraduate studies in
mathematics and computer science at the Hong Kong University of
Science and Technology. Her research has received several awards,
including the INFORMS data mining best paper award, student paper
awards from American Statistical Association Biometrics Section and
Bayesian Statistics Section, and the ICSA conference young researcher