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On the Fairness ROAD: Robust Optimization for Adversarial Debiasing

Vincent Grari · Thibault Laugel · Tatsunori Hashimoto · sylvain lamprier · Marcin Detyniecki

Halle B #232
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Thu 9 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


In the field of algorithmic fairness, significant attention has been put on group fairness criteria, such as Demographic Parity and Equalized Odds. Nevertheless, these objectives, measured as global averages, have raised concerns about persistent local disparities between sensitive groups. In this work, we address the problem of local fairness, which ensures that the predictor is unbiased not only in terms of expectations over the whole population, but also within any subregion of the feature space, unknown at training time. To enforce this objective, we introduce ROAD, a novel approach that leverages the Distributionally Robust Optimization (DRO) framework within a fair adversarial learning objective, where an adversary tries to infer the sensitive attribute from the predictions. Using an instance-level re-weighting strategy, ROAD is designed to prioritize inputs that are likely to be locally unfair, i.e. where the adversary faces the least difficulty in reconstructing the sensitive attribute. Numerical experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our method: it achieves Pareto dominance with respect to local fairness and accuracy for a given global fairness level across three standard datasets, and also enhances fairness generalization under distribution shift.

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