Inference and Decision-Making amid Social Interactions



From social media trends to family dynamics, social interactions shape our daily lives. In this talk, I will present tools I have developed for statistical inference and decision-making in light of these social interactions.

(1) Inference: I will talk about estimation of causal effects in the presence of interference. In causal inference, the term “interference” refers to a situation where, due to interactions between units, the treatment assigned to one unit affects the observed outcomes of others. I will discuss large-sample asymptotics for treatment effect estimation under network interference where the interference graph is a random draw from a graphon. When targeting the direct effect, we show that popular estimators in our setting are considerably more accurate than existing results suggest. Meanwhile, when targeting the indirect effect, we propose a consistent estimator in a setting where no other consistent estimators are currently available.

(2) Decision-Making: Turning to reinforcement learning amid social interactions, I will focus on a problem inspired by a specific class of mobile health trials involving both target individuals and their care partners. These trials feature two types of interventions: those targeting individuals directly and those aimed at improving the relationship between the individual and their care partner. I will present an online reinforcement learning algorithm designed to personalize the delivery of these interventions. The algorithm’s effectiveness is demonstrated through simulation studies conducted on a realistic test bed, which was constructed using data from a prior mobile health study. The proposed algorithm will be implemented in the ADAPTS HCT clinical trial, which seeks to improve medication adherence among adolescents undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Related Papers: