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In health and social sciences, it is critically important to identify subgroups of the study population where a treatment has notable heterogeneity in the causal effects with respect to the average treatment effect (ATE). The bulk of heterogeneous treatment effect (HTE) literature focuses on two major tasks: (i) estimating HTEs by examining the conditional average treatment effect (CATE); (ii) discovering subgroups of a population characterized by HTE.
Several methodologies have been proposed for both tasks, but providing interpretability in the results is still an open challenge. Bargagli-Stoffi et al. (2023) proposed Causal Rule Ensemble, a new method for HTE characterization in terms of decision rules, via an extensive exploration of heterogeneity patterns by an ensemble-of-trees approach, enforcing stability in the discovery. CRE is an R Package providing a flexible implementation of the Causal Rule Ensemble algorithm.
Installing from CRAN.
Installing the latest developing version.
Import.
The full list of required dependencies can be found in project in the DESCRIPTION file.
Data (required)
y
The observed response/outcome vector (binary or continuous).
z
The treatment/exposure/policy vector (binary).
X
The covariate matrix (binary or continuous).
Parameters (not required)
method_parameters
The list of parameters to define the models used, including: - ratio_dis
The ratio of data delegated to the discovery sub-sample (default: 0.5). - ite_method
The method to estimate the individual treatment effect (ITE) pseudo-outcome estimation (default: “aipw”) [1].
- learner_ps
The (SuperLearner) model for the propensity score estimation (default: “SL.xgboost”, used only for “aipw”,“bart”,“cf” ITE estimators). - learner_y
The (SuperLearner) model for the outcome estimation (default: “SL.xgboost”, used only for “aipw”,“slearner”,“tlearner” and “xlearner” ITE estimators).
hyper_params
The list of hyper parameters to finetune the method, including: - intervention_vars
Array with intervention-able covariates names used for Rules Generation. Empty or null array means that all the covariates are considered as intervention-able (default: NULL
).
- ntrees
The number of decision trees for random forest (default: 20).
- node_size
Minimum size of the trees’ terminal nodes (default: 20). - max_rules
Maximum number of generated candidates rules (default: 50). - max_depth
Maximum rules length (default: 3).
- t_decay
The decay threshold for rules pruning (default: 0.025).
- t_ext
The threshold to define too generic or too specific (extreme) rules (default: 0.01).
- t_corr
The threshold to define correlated rules (default: 1). - stability_selection
Method for stability selection for selecting the rules. “vanilla” for stability selection, “error_control” for stability selection with error control and “no” for no stability selection (default: “vanilla”). - B
Number of bootstrap samples for stability selection in rules selection and uncertainty quantification in estimation (default: 20). - subsample
Bootstrap ratio subsample and stability selection in rules selection, and uncertainty quantification in estimation (default: 0.5). - offset
Name of the covariate to use as offset (i.e. “x1”) for T-Poisson ITE Estimation. NULL
if not used (default: NULL
).
- cutoff
Threshold defining the minimum cutoff value for the stability scores in Stability Selection (default: 0.9).
- pfer
Upper bound for the per-family error rate (tolerated amount of falsely selected rules) in Error Control Stability Selection (default: 1).
Additional Estimates (not required)
ite
The estimated ITE vector. If given, both the ITE estimation steps in Discovery and Inference are skipped (default: NULL
).
[1] Options for the ITE estimation are as follows: - S-Learner (slearner
) - T-Learner (tlearner
) - T-Poisson (tpoisson
) - X-Learner (xlearner
) - Augmented Inverse Probability Weighting (aipw
) - Causal Forests (cf
) - Causal Bayesian Additive Regression Trees (bart
)
If other estimates of the ITE are provided in ite
additional argument, both the ITE estimations in discovery and inference are skipped and those values estimates are used instead. The ITE estimator requires also an outcome learner and/or a propensity score learner from the SuperLearner package (i.e., “SL.lm”, “SL.svm”). Both these models are simple classifiers/regressors. By default XGBoost algorithm is used for both these steps.
Example 1 (default parameters)
set.seed(2023)
dataset <- generate_cre_dataset(n = 2000,
rho = 0,
n_rules = 2,
p = 10,
effect_size = 5,
binary_covariates = TRUE,
binary_outcome = FALSE,
confounding = "no")
y <- dataset[["y"]]
z <- dataset[["z"]]
X <- dataset[["X"]]
cre_results <- cre(y, z, X)
summary(cre_results)
plot(cre_results)
ite_pred <- predict(cre_results, X)
Example 2 (personalized ite estimation)
set.seed(2023)
dataset <- generate_cre_dataset(n = 2000,
rho = 0,
n_rules = 2,
p = 10,
effect_size = 5,
binary_covariates = TRUE,
binary_outcome = FALSE,
confounding = "no")
y <- dataset[["y"]]
z <- dataset[["z"]]
X <- dataset[["X"]]
# personalized ITE estimation (S-Learner with Linear Regression)
model <- lm(y ~., data = data.frame(y = y, X = X, z = z))
ite_pred <- predict(model, newdata = data.frame(X = X, z = z))
cre_results <- cre(y, z, X, ite = ite_pred)
summary(cre_results)
plot(cre_results)
ite_pred <- predict(cre_results, X)
Example 3 (setting parameters)
set.seed(2023)
dataset <- generate_cre_dataset(n = 2000,
rho = 0,
n_rules = 2,
p = 10,
effect_size = 2,
binary_covariates = TRUE,
binary_outcome = FALSE,
confounding = "no")
y <- dataset[["y"]]
z <- dataset[["z"]]
X <- dataset[["X"]]
method_params = list(ratio_dis = 0.5,
ite_method ="aipw",
learner_ps = "SL.xgboost",
learner_y = "SL.xgboost")
hyper_params = list(intervention_vars = c("x1","x2","x3","x4","x5","x6"),
offset = NULL,
ntrees = 20,
node_size = 20,
max_rules = 50,
max_depth = 2,
t_decay = 0.025,
t_ext = 0.025,
t_corr = 1,
stability_selection = "vanilla",
cutoff = 0.8,
pfer = 0.1,
B = 50,
subsample = 0.1)
cre_results <- cre(y, z, X, method_params, hyper_params)
summary(cre_results)
plot(cre_results)
ite_pred <- predict(cre_results, X)
More synthetic data sets can be generated using generate_cre_dataset()
.
Reproduce simulation experiments in Section 4 in @bargagli2023causal, evaluating Causal Rule Ensemble Discovery and Estimation performances, comparing with different benchmarks.
Discovery: Evaluate performance of Causal Rule Ensemble algorithm (varying the pseudo-outcome estimator) in rules and effect modifier discovery.
Estimation: Evaluate performance of Causal Rule Ensemble algorithm (varying the pseudo-outcome estimator) in treatment effect estimation and comparing it with the corresponding stand-alone ITE estimators.
More exhaustive simulation studies and real world experiment of CRE package can be found at https://github.com/NSAPH-Projects/cre_applications.
Please note that the CRE project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By contributing to this project, you agree to abide by its terms. More information about the opening issues and contributing (i.e., git branching model) can be found on CRE website.