Minimax optimal nonparametric estimation of heterogeneous treatment effects

Zijun Gao, Yanjun Han

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


A central goal of causal inference is to detect and estimate the treatment effects of a given treatment or intervention on an outcome variable of interest, where a member known as the heterogeneous treatment effect (HTE) is of growing popularity in recent practical applications such as the personalized medicine. In this paper, we model the HTE as a smooth nonparametric difference between two less smooth baseline functions, and determine the tight statistical limits of the nonparametric HTE estimation as a function of the covariate geometry. In particular, a two-stage nearest-neighbor-based estimator throwing away observations with poor matching quality is near minimax optimal. We also establish the tight dependence on the density ratio without the usual assumption that the covariate densities are bounded away from zero, where a key step is to employ a novel maximal inequality which could be of independent interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
StatePublished - 2020
Event34th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Dec 6 2020Dec 12 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing


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