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Fair and Useful Cohort Selection

As important decisions about the distribution of society's resources become increasingly automated, it is essential to consider the measurement and enforcement of fairness in these decisions. In this work we build on the results of Dwork and Ilvento ITCS'19, which laid the foundations for the study of fair algorithms under composition. In particular, we study the cohort selection problem, where we wish to use a fair classifier to select k candidates from an arbitrarily ordered set of size n>k, while preserving individual fairness and maximizing utility. We define a linear utility function to measure performance relative to the behavior of the original classifier. We develop a fair, utility-optimal O(n)-time cohort selection algorithm for the offline setting, and our primary result, a solution to the problem in the streaming setting that keeps no more than O(k) pending candidates at all time.

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