Webinar Review: Lectures on Causality: Jonas Peters, Part 1

Over the course of the semester, our trainees are reviewing webinars in their given fields and preparing abstracts to help colleagues outside their discipline make an informed choice about watching them. As our program bridges diverse disciplines, these abstracts are beneficial for our own group in helping one another gain key knowledge in each other’s fields. We are happy to share these here for anyone else who may find them helpful.

Lectures on Causality: Jonas Peters, Part 1

Jonas Peters

May 24, 2017

Broad Institute

Olawale SalaudeenAnalysis by Olawale Salaudeen: 

This webinar is a lecture by Jonas Peters, who has contributed a lot of important work to causal discovery and inference. This presentation is slightly technical in that it provides mathematical definitions of problems in causality; however, it is an excellent introduction. The speaker explains many essential objects and terms such as interventions (do-operations), structural equation models, adjustment, and backdoor paths. In addition, the explanations of these concepts are very nicely tied to intuitive examples that the viewer can follow.

This talk is a good introduction for those who watched the first webinar I posted featuring a conversation between Judea Pearl and Lex Fridman and wanted to learn more. It provides a sound basis for understanding works in this field that might be useful for their own work. Given the generality of the tools and methods developed in this line of work of causal discovery and inference, I hope the user can use this as a starting point for rigorously surveying this field and use the resources to further their research. Perhaps they will be able to use instrumental variables to answer scientific questions that they weren’t able to before due to experimental limitations or use the backdoor criterion to design controls for experiments more carefully.