FLAME: A Fast Large-scale Almost Matching Exactly Approach to Causal Inference

07/19/2017
by   Sudeepa Roy, et al.
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A classical problem in causal inference is that of matching, where treatment units need to be matched to control units. Some of the main challenges in developing matching methods arise from the tension among (i) inclusion of as many covariates as possible in defining the matched groups, (ii) having matched groups with enough treated and control units for a valid estimate of Average Treatment Effect (ATE) in each group, and (iii) computing the matched pairs efficiently for large datasets. In this paper we propose a fast and novel method for approximate and exact matching in causal analysis called FLAME (Fast Large-scale Almost Matching Exactly). We define an optimization objective for match quality, which gives preferences to matching on covariates that can be useful for predicting the outcome while encouraging as many matches as possible. FLAME aims to optimize our match quality measure, leveraging techniques that are natural for query processing in the area of database management. We provide two implementations of FLAME using SQL queries and bit-vector techniques.

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