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Intriguing Parameters of Structural Causal Models

Matej Zecevic; Devendra Singh Dhami; Kristian Kersting
In: Computing Research Repository eprint Journal (CoRR), Vol. abs/2105.12697, Pages 0-10, arXiv, 2021.


The recent years have been marked by extended research on adversarial attacks, especially on deep neural networks. With this work we intend on posing and investigating the question of whether the phenomenon might be more general in nature, that is, adversarial-style attacks outside classification. Specifically, we investigate optimization problems starting with Linear Programs (LPs). We start off by demonstrating the shortcoming of a naive mapping between the formalism of adversarial examples and LPs, to then reveal how we can provide the missing piece -- intriguingly, through the Pearlian notion of Causality. Characteristically, we show the direct influence of the Structural Causal Model (SCM) onto the subsequent LP optimization, which ultimately exposes a notion of confounding in LPs (inherited by said SCM) that allows for adversarial-style attacks. We provide both the general proof formally alongside existential proofs of such intriguing LP-parameterizations based on SCM for three combinatorial problems, namely Linear Assignment, Shortest Path and a real world problem of energy systems.

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