Encyclopedia of Machine Learning

2010 Edition
| Editors: Claude Sammut, Geoffrey I. Webb


  • Ricardo Silva
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30164-8_103


The main task in causal inference is predicting the outcome of an intervention. For example, a treatment assigned by a doctor that will change the patient’s heart condition is an intervention. Predicting the change in the patient’s condition is a causal inference task. In general, an intervention is an action taken by an external agent that changes the original values, or the probability distributions, of some of the variables in the system. Besides predicting outcomes of actions, causal inference is also concerned with explanation: identifying which were the causes of a particular event that happened in the past.

Motivation and Background

Many problems in machine learning are prediction problems. Given a feature vector X, the task is to provide an estimate of some output vector Y, or its conditional probability distribution P(Y | X). This typically assumes that the distribution of Y given Xduring learning is the same distribution at prediction time. There are many...

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Recommended Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Silva

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