Causal Inference, Causal Discovery, & Machine Learning
Speaker: Jakob Runge
Date: December 8, 2022
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Virtual: Zoom link provided upon registration
In-person: Columbia Innovation Hub, 2276 12th Avenue, Second Floor, Room 202, New York, NY 10027
*Please note that in-person space is limited*
Abstract: In the past decades machine learning has had a rapidly growing impact on many fields of natural-, life- & social sciences as well as engineering. Machine learning excels at classification & regression tasks from complex heterogeneous datasets & can answer questions like "What statistical associations or correlations can we see in the data?", "What objects are in this picture?", or "What is the most likely next data point?". But many questions in science, engineering, & politics are about "What are the causal relations underlying the data?" or "What if a certain variable changes or is changed?" or "What would have happened if some variable had another value?". Data-driven machine learning alone fails to answer such questions. Causal inference provides the theory & methods to learn & utilize qualitative knowledge about causal relations. Together with machine learning it enables causal reasoning given complex data. Furthermore, causal methods can be used to intercompare & validate physical simulation models. In this talk I will present an overview of this exciting & widely applicable framework & illustrate it with some examples from Earth sciences & beyond.
Bio: Jakob Runge heads the Causal Inference group at the German Aerospace Center's Institute of Data Science in Jena since 2017 & is guest professor of computer science at TU Berlin since 2021. His group combines innovative data science methods from different fields (graphical models, causal inference, nonlinear dynamics, deep learning) & closely works with experts in the climate sciences & beyond. Jakob studied physics at Humboldt University Berlin & finished his PhD project at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in 2014. For his studies he was funded by the German National Foundation (Studienstiftung) & his thesis was awarded the Carl-Ramsauer prize by the Berlin Physical Society. In 2014 he won a $200.000 Fellowship Award in Studying Complex Systems by the James S. McDonnell Foundation & joined the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, from 2016 to 2017. In 2020 he won an ERC Starting Grant with his interdisciplinary project CausalEarth. On https://github.com/jakobrunge/tigramite.git he provides Tigramite, a time series analysis python module for causal inference. For more details, see: www.climateinformaticslab.com