AAAI Publications, Twenty-Seventh AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Causal Transportability with Limited Experiments
Elias Bareinboim, Judea Pearl

Last modified: 2013-06-30


We address the problem of transferring causal knowledge learned in one environment to another, potentially different environment, when only limited experiments may be conducted at the source. This generalizes the treatment of transportability introduced in [Pearl and Bareinboim, 2011; Bareinboim and Pearl, 2012b], which deals with transferring causal information when any experiment can be conducted at the source. Given that it is not always feasible to conduct certain controlled experiments, we consider the decision problem whether experiments on a selected subset Z of variables together with qualitative assumptions encoded in a diagram may render causal effects in the target environment computable from the available data. This problem, which we call z-transportability, reduces to ordinary transportability when Z is all-inclusive, and, like the latter, can be given syntactic characterization using the do-calculus [Pearl, 1995; 2000]. This paper establishes a necessary and sufficient condition for causal effects in the target domain to be estimable from both the non-experimental information available and the limited experimental information transferred from the source. We further provides a complete algorithm for computing the transport formula, that is, a way of fusing experimental and observational information to synthesize an unbiased estimate of the desired causal relation.


causal relations; transfer knowledge; transportability; completeness; meta-analysis; experimental design

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