Towards fair classifiers without sensitive attributes: Exploring biases in related features

Tianxiang Zhao, Enyan Dai, Kai Shu, Suhang Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite the rapid development and great success of machine learning models, extensive studies have exposed their disadvantage of inheriting latent discrimination and societal bias from the training data. This phenomenon hinders their adoption on high-stake applications. Thus, many efforts have been taken for developing fair machine learning models. Most of them require that sensitive attributes are available during training to learn fair models. However, in many real-world applications, it is usually infeasible to obtain the sensitive attributes due to privacy or legal issues, which challenges existing fair-ensuring strategies. Though the sensitive attribute of each data sample is unknown, we observe that there are usually some non-sensitive features in the training data that are highly correlated with sensitive attributes, which can be used to alleviate the bias. Therefore, in this paper, we study a novel problem of exploring features that are highly correlated with sensitive attributes for learning fair and accurate classifiers. We theoretically show that by minimizing the correlation between these related features and model prediction, we can learn a fair classifier. Based on this motivation, we propose a novel framework which simultaneously uses these related features for accurate prediction and enforces fairness. In addition, the model can dynamically adjust the regularization weight of each related feature to balance its contribution on model classification and fairness. Experimental results on real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed model for learning fair models with high classification accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWSDM 2022 - Proceedings of the 15th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages1433-1442
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450391320
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 11 2022
Event15th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining, WSDM 2022 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Feb 21 2022Feb 25 2022

Publication series

NameWSDM 2022 - Proceedings of the 15th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining

Conference

Conference15th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining, WSDM 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online
Period2/21/222/25/22

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Towards fair classifiers without sensitive attributes: Exploring biases in related features'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this