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Event Series Special Seminar Series

Inference and Decision-Making amid Social Interactions | Shuangning Li

Computer Science & Engineering Building (CSE), Room 4140 3234 Matthews Ln, La Jolla, CA, United States

From social media trends to family dynamics, social interactions shape our daily lives. In this talk, I will present tools I have developed for statistical inference and decision-making in light of these social interactions.

(1) Inference: I will talk about estimation of causal effects in the presence of interference. In causal inference, the term “interference” refers to a situation where, due to interactions between units, the treatment assigned to one unit affects the observed outcomes of others. I will discuss large-sample asymptotics for treatment effect estimation under network interference where the interference graph is a random draw from a graphon. When targeting the direct effect, we show that popular estimators in our setting are considerably more accurate than existing results suggest. Meanwhile, when targeting the indirect effect, we propose a consistent estimator in a setting where no other consistent estimators are currently available.

(2) Decision-Making: Turning to reinforcement learning amid social interactions, I will focus on a problem inspired by a specific class of mobile health trials involving both target individuals and their care partners. These trials feature two types of interventions: those targeting individuals directly and those aimed at improving the relationship between the individual and their care partner. I will present an online reinforcement learning algorithm designed to personalize the delivery of these interventions. The algorithm's effectiveness is demonstrated through simulation studies conducted on a realistic test bed, which was constructed using data from a prior mobile health study. The proposed algorithm will be implemented in the ADAPTS HCT clinical trial, which seeks to improve medication adherence among adolescents undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.