Inference for Individual Mediation Effects and Interventional Effects in Sparse High-Dimensional Causal Graphical Models Academic Article uri icon


  • We consider the problem of identifying intermediate variables (or mediators) that regulate the effect of a treatment on a response variable. While there has been significant research on this classical topic, little work has been done when the set of potential mediators is high-dimensional (HD). A further complication arises when these mediators are interrelated (with unknown dependencies). In particular, we assume that the causal structure of the treatment, the confounders, the potential mediators and the response is a (possibly unknown) directed acyclic graph (DAG). HD DAG models have previously been used for the estimation of causal effects from observational data. In particular, methods called IDA and joint-IDA have been developed for estimating the effects of single and multiple simultaneous interventions, respectively. In this paper, we propose an IDA-type method called MIDA for estimating so-called individual mediation effects from HD observational data. Although IDA and joint-IDA estimators have been shown to be consistent in certain sparse HD settings, their asymptotic properties such as convergence in distribution and inferential tools in such settings have remained unknown. In this paper, we prove HD consistency of MIDA for linear structural equation models with sub-Gaussian errors. More importantly, we derive distributional convergence results for MIDA in similar HD settings, which are applicable to IDA and joint-IDA estimators as well. To our knowledge, these are the first such distributional convergence results facilitating inference for IDA-type estimators. These are built on our novel theoretical results regarding uniform bounds for linear regression estimators over varying subsets of HD covariates which may be of independent interest. Finally, we empirically validate our asymptotic theory for MIDA and demonstrate its usefulness via simulations and a real data application.

published proceedings

  • arXiv Preprint

author list (cited authors)

  • Chakrabortty, A., Nandy, P., & Li, H

complete list of authors

  • Chakrabortty, Abhishek||Nandy, Preetam||Li, Hongzhe

publication date

  • September 2018