Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 277–292

Three naive Bayes approaches for discrimination-free classification

Open Access

DOI: 10.1007/s10618-010-0190-x

Cite this article as:
Calders, T. & Verwer, S. Data Min Knowl Disc (2010) 21: 277. doi:10.1007/s10618-010-0190-x


In this paper, we investigate how to modify the naive Bayes classifier in order to perform classification that is restricted to be independent with respect to a given sensitive attribute. Such independency restrictions occur naturally when the decision process leading to the labels in the data-set was biased; e.g., due to gender or racial discrimination. This setting is motivated by many cases in which there exist laws that disallow a decision that is partly based on discrimination. Naive application of machine learning techniques would result in huge fines for companies. We present three approaches for making the naive Bayes classifier discrimination-free: (i) modifying the probability of the decision being positive, (ii) training one model for every sensitive attribute value and balancing them, and (iii) adding a latent variable to the Bayesian model that represents the unbiased label and optimizing the model parameters for likelihood using expectation maximization. We present experiments for the three approaches on both artificial and real-life data.


Discrimination-aware classification Naive Bayes Expectation maximization 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenNetherlands

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