Certifying Fairness of Probabilistic Circuits

In Proceedings of the 37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 2023

Nikil Roashan Selvam, Guy Van den Broeck, and YooJung Choi


With the increased use of machine learning systems for decision making, questions about the fairness properties of such systems start to take center stage. Most existing work on algorithmic fairness assume complete observation of features at prediction time, as is the case for popular notions like statistical parity and equal opportunity. However, this is not sufficient for models that can make predictions with partial observation as we could miss patterns of bias and incorrectly certify a model to be fair. To address this, a recently introduced notion of fairness asks whether the model exhibits any discrimination pattern, in which an individual characterized by (partial) feature observations, receives vastly different decisions merely by disclosing one or more sensitive attributes such as gender and race. By explicitly accounting for partial observations, this provides a much more fine-grained notion of fairness. In this paper, we propose an algorithm to search for discrimination patterns in a general class of probabilistic models, namely probabilistic circuits. Previously, such algorithms were limited to naive Bayes classifiers which make strong independence assumptions; by contrast, probabilistic circuits provide a unifying framework for a wide range of tractable probabilistic models and can even be compiled from certain classes of Bayesian networks and probabilistic programs, making our method much more broadly applicable. Furthermore, for an unfair model, it may be useful to quickly find discrimination patterns and distill them for better interpretability. As such, we also propose a sampling-based approach to more efficiently mine discrimination patterns, and introduce new classes of patterns such as minimal, maximal, and Pareto optimal patterns that can effectively summarize exponentially many discrimination patterns. PDF Code BibTex