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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

When and Why of Causation

Adam kelleher
Physics PhD; Principal Data Scientist at BuzzFeed  : Thoughtful Medium piece:

" ... So what is causality good for? Anytime you decide to take an action, in a business context or otherwise, you’re making some assumptions about how the world operates. That is, you’re making assumptions about the causal effects of possible actions. Most of the time, we only consider very simple actions: I should eat, because the causal effect of “eating” on “hunger” is negative. I should show more impressions of this ad, because the causal effect of impressions on pageviews is positive. What about more complex interventions? What about the downstream effects? Maybe showing more impressions of the ad increases pageviews of it, but it draws traffic away from something more shareable, reducing traffic to the site as a whole. Is there a way to make all of the downstream causal effects obvious? Is there a way to make causal assumptions explicit, so their merits can be discussed, and our model of the world can improve?  ... "  

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