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Defining Expertise: Applications to Treatment Effect Estimation

Alihan Hüyük · Qiyao Wei · Alicia Curth · Mihaela van der Schaar

Halle B #47
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Tue 7 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Decision-makers are often experts of their domain and take actions based on their domain knowledge. Doctors, for instance, may prescribe treatments by predicting the likely outcome of each available treatment. Actions of an expert thus naturally encode part of their domain knowledge, and can help make inferences within the same domain: Knowing doctors try to prescribe the best treatment for their patients, we can tell treatments prescribed more frequently are likely to be more effective. Yet in machine learning, the fact that most decision-makers are experts is often overlooked, and “expertise” is seldom leveraged as an inductive bias. This is especially true for the literature on treatment effect estimation, where often the only assumption made about actions is that of overlap. In this paper, we argue that expertise—particularly the type of expertise the decision-makers of a domain are likely to have—can be informative in designing and selecting methods for treatment effect estimation. We formally define two types of expertise, predictive and prognostic, and demonstrate empirically that: (i) the prominent type of expertise in a domain significantly influences the performance of different methods in treatment effect estimation, and (ii) it is possible to predict the type of expertise present in a dataset, which can provide a quantitative basis for model selection.

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