Fairness Through Computationally-Bounded Awareness

We study the problem of fair classification within the versatile framework of Dwork et al. [6], which assumes the existence of a metric that measures similarity between pairs of individuals. Unlike earlier work, we do not assume that the entire metric is known to the learning algorithm; instead, the learner can query this arbitrary metric a bounded number of times. We propose a new notion of fairness called metric multifairness and show how to achieve this notion in our setting. Metric multifairness is parameterized by a similarity metric d on pairs of individuals to classify and a rich collection C of (possibly overlapping) “comparison sets“ over pairs of individuals. At a high level, metric multifairness guarantees that similar subpopulations are treated similarly, as long as these subpopulations are identified within the class C.

Post-processing for Individual Fairness

Post-processing in algorithmic fairness is a versatile approach for correcting bias in ML systems that are already used in production. The main appeal of postprocessing is that it avoids expensive retraining. In this work, we propose general post-processing algorithms for individual fairness (IF). We consider a setting where the learner only has access to the predictions of the original model and a similarity graph between individuals guiding the desired fairness constraints. We cast the IF post-processing problem as a graph smoothing problem corresponding to graph Laplacian regularization that preserves the desired “treat similar individuals similarly” interpretation. Our theoretical results demonstrate the connection of the new objective function to a local relaxation of the original individual fairness. Empirically, our post-processing algorithms correct individual biases in large-scale NLP models such as BERT, while preserving accuracy.

On Fairness and Calibration

The machine learning community has become increasingly concerned with the potential for bias and discrimination in predictive models. This has motivated a growing line of work on what it means for a classification procedure to be “fair.” In this paper, we investigate the tension between minimizing error disparity across different population groups while maintaining calibrated probability estimates. We show that calibration is compatible only with a single error constraint (i.e. equal false-negatives rates across groups), and show that any algorithm that satisfies this relaxation is no better than randomizing a percentage of predictions for an existing classifier. These unsettling findings, which extend and generalize existing results, are empirically confirmed on several datasets.

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