Beyond Correlation - Introduction to Causality and Counterfactual Reasoning

Date & Time: Friday Aug 17, 4pm (Tea/Coffee at 3:45pm)
Location: Simons Centre, Ground Floor.
Speaker: Tanmayee Narendra, IBM Research.
Title : Beyond Correlation - Introduction to Causality and Counterfactual Reasoning

Consider the following questions-

1. How can we test the effectiveness of a drug as a treatment for a particular disease? In other words, how can we know that the drug can cause the disease to be cured?
2. Given the circumstances, how did a person die? Or, what was the cause of death of the person? If the circumstances were different in some way, would the person still be dead?
3. How many crimes have been avoided after the implementation of a particular policy? In other words, did a particular policy cause a decrease in the number of crimes?

All of the above questions are causal rather than associational, and finding answers to these questions requires some knowledge about the data generating process.

Causality and causal inference is a new, emerging area of research that aims to answer these kinds of questions. It cuts across disciplines, and there are several interesting, open questions yet to be answered. This talk is split into two parts - The first part will focus on terminology and concepts in Causality, Inference and Counterfactual Reasoning. The second part will be about how these concepts can be used to answer interesting questions.

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