Individual Fairness in Pipelines [article]

Cynthia Dwork, Christina Ilvento, Meena Jagadeesan
2020 arXiv   pre-print
It is well understood that a system built from individually fair components may not itself be individually fair. In this work, we investigate individual fairness under pipeline composition. Pipelines differ from ordinary sequential or repeated composition in that individuals may drop out at any stage, and classification in subsequent stages may depend on the remaining "cohort" of individuals. As an example, a company might hire a team for a new project and at a later point promote the highest
more » ... rformer on the team. Unlike other repeated classification settings, where the degree of unfairness degrades gracefully over multiple fair steps, the degree of unfairness in pipelines can be arbitrary, even in a pipeline with just two stages. Guided by a panoply of real-world examples, we provide a rigorous framework for evaluating different types of fairness guarantees for pipelines. We show that naïve auditing is unable to uncover systematic unfairness and that, in order to ensure fairness, some form of dependence must exist between the design of algorithms at different stages in the pipeline. Finally, we provide constructions that permit flexibility at later stages, meaning that there is no need to lock in the entire pipeline at the time that the early stage is constructed.
arXiv:2004.05167v1 fatcat:3w6acu4hhjaf3c5qwdwwtu7fo4