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Causal learning with sufficient statistics: an information bottleneck approach

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Besserve,  M
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Chicharro, B., Besserve, M., & Panzeri, S. (submitted). Causal learning with sufficient statistics: an information bottleneck approach.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-4534-1
Abstract
The inference of causal relationships using observational data from partially observed multivariate systems with hidden variables is a fundamental question in many scientific domains. Methods extracting causal information from conditional independencies between variables of a system are common tools for this purpose, but are limited in the lack of independencies. To surmount this limitation, we capitalize on the fact that the laws governing the generative mechanisms of a system often result in substructures embodied in the generative functional equation of a variable, which act as sufficient statistics for the influence that other variables have on it. These functional sufficient statistics constitute intermediate hidden variables providing new conditional independencies to be tested. We propose to use the Information Bottleneck method, a technique commonly applied for dimensionality reduction, to find underlying sufficient sets of statistics. Using these statistics we formulate new additional rules of causal orientation that provide causal information not obtainable from standard structure learning algorithms, which exploit only conditional independencies between observable variables. We validate the use of sufficient statistics for structure learning both with simulated systems built to contain specific sufficient statistics and with benchmark data from regulatory rules previously and independently proposed to model biological signal transduction networks.