A reductions approach to fair classification

We present a systematic approach for achieving fairness in a binary classification setting. While we focus on two well-known quantitative definitions of fairness, our approach encompasses many other previously studied definitions as special cases. The key idea is to reduce fair classification to a sequence of cost-sensitive classification problems, whose solutions yield a randomized classifier with the lowest (empirical) error subject to the desired constraints. We introduce two reductions that work for any representation of the cost-sensitive classifier and compare favorably to prior baselines on a variety of data sets, while overcoming several of their disadvantages.

Fairness Beyond Disparate Treatment & Disparate Impact: learning classification without disparate mistreatment

Automated data-driven decision making systems are increasingly being used to assist, or even replace humans in many settings. These systems function by learning from historical decisions, often taken by humans. In order to maximize the utility of these systems (or, classifiers), their training involves minimizing the errors (or, misclassifications) over the given historical data. However, it is quite possible that the optimally trained classifier makes decisions for people belonging to different social groups with different misclassification rates (e.g., misclassification rates for females are higher than for males), thereby placing these groups at an unfair disadvantage. To account for and avoid such unfairness, in this paper, we introduce a new notion of unfairness, disparate mistreatment, which is defined in terms of misclassification rates. We then propose intuitive measures of disparate mistreatment for decision boundary-based classifiers, which can be easily incorporated into their formulation as convex-concave constraints. Experiments on synthetic as well as real world datasets show that our methodology is effective at avoiding disparate mistreatment, often at a small cost in terms of accuracy.

Empirical Risk Minimization Under Fairness Constraints

We address the problem of algorithmic fairness: ensuring that sensitive information does not unfairly influence the outcome of a classifier. We present an approach based on empirical risk minimization, which incorporates a fairness constraint into the learning problem. It encourages the conditional risk of the learned classifier to be approximately constant with respect to the sensitive variable. We derive both risk and fairness bounds that support the statistical consistency of our methodology. We specify our approach to kernel methods and observe that the fairness requirement implies an orthogonality constraint which can be easily added to these methods. We further observe that for linear models the constraint translates into a simple data preprocessing step. Experiments indicate that the method is empirically effective and performs favorably against state-of-the-art approaches.

Satisfying Real-world Goals with Dataset Constraints

The goal of minimizing misclassification error on a training set is often just one of several real-world goals that might be defined on different datasets. For example, one may require a classifier to also make positive predictions at some specified rate for some subpopulation (fairness), or to achieve a specified empirical recall. Other real-world goals include reducing churn with respect to a previously deployed model, or stabilizing online training. In this paper we propose handling multiple goals on multiple datasets by training with dataset constraints, using the ramp penalty to accurately quantify costs, and present an efficient algorithm to approximately optimize the resulting non-convex constrained optimization problem. Experiments on both benchmark and real-world industry datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach.

Non-Discriminatory Machine Learning through Convex Fairness Criteria

In this paper, we introduce a novel technique to achieve nondiscrimination without sacrificing convexity and probabilistic interpretation. Our experimental analysis demonstrates the success of the method on popular real datasets including ProPublica’s COMPAS dataset. We also propose a new notion of fairness for machine learning and show that our technique satisfies this subjective fairness criterion.

Penalizing unfairness in binary classification

We present a new approach for mitigating unfairness in learned classifiers. In particular, we focus on binary classification tasks over individuals from two populations, where, as our criterion for fairness, we wish to achieve similar false positive rates in both populations, and similar false negative rates in both populations. As a proof of concept, we implement our approach and empirically evaluate its ability to achieve both fairness and accuracy, using datasets from the fields of criminal risk assessment, credit, lending, and college admissions.

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