Tree Ensemble Algorithms for Causal Machine Learning

Document
Description
This dissertation centers on treatment effect estimation in the field of causal inference, and aims to expand the toolkit for effect estimation when the treatment variable is binary. Two new stochastic tree-ensemble methods for treatment effect estimation in the continuous

This dissertation centers on treatment effect estimation in the field of causal inference, and aims to expand the toolkit for effect estimation when the treatment variable is binary. Two new stochastic tree-ensemble methods for treatment effect estimation in the continuous outcome setting are presented. The Accelerated Bayesian Causal Forrest (XBCF) model handles variance via a group-specific parameter, and the Heteroskedastic version of XBCF (H-XBCF) uses a separate tree ensemble to learn covariate-dependent variance. This work also contributes to the field of survival analysis by proposing a new framework for estimating survival probabilities via density regression. Within this framework, the Heteroskedastic Accelerated Bayesian Additive Regression Trees (H-XBART) model, which is also developed as part of this work, is utilized in treatment effect estimation for right-censored survival outcomes. All models have been implemented as part of the XBART R package, and their performance is evaluated via extensive simulation studies with appropriate sets of comparators. The contributed methods achieve similar levels of performance, while being orders of magnitude (sometimes as much as 100x) faster than comparator state-of-the-art methods, thus offering an exciting opportunity for treatment effect estimation in the large data setting.