Proceedings Abstracts of the Twenty-Fifth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence

Incorporating Knowledge into Structural Equation Models Using Auxiliary Variables / 3577
Bryant Chen, Judea Pearl, Elias Bareinboim

In this paper, we extend graph-based identification methods by allowing background knowledge in the form of non-zero parameter values. Such information could be obtained, for example, from a previously conducted randomized experiment, from substantive understanding of the domain, or even an identification technique. To incorporate such information systematically, we propose the addition of auxiliary variables to the model, which are constructed so that certain paths will be conveniently cancelled. This cancellation allows the auxiliary variables to help conventional methods of identification (e.g., single-door criterion, instrumental variables, half-trek criterion), as well as model testing (e.g., d-separation, over-identification). Moreover, by iteratively alternating steps of identification and adding auxiliary variables, we can improve the power of existing identification methods via a bootstrapping approach that does not require external knowledge. We operationalize this method for simple instrumental sets (a generalization of instrumental variables) and show that the resulting method is able to identify at least as many models as the most general identification method for linear systems known to date. We further discuss the application of auxiliary variables to the tasks of model testing and z-identification.