Exploiting Reject Option in Classification for Social Discrimination Control

Faisal Kamiran, Sameen Mansha, Asim Karim, Xiangliang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Social discrimination is said to occur when an unfavorable decision for an individual is influenced by her membership to certain protected groups such as females and minority ethnic groups. Such discriminatory decisions often exist in historical data. Despite recent works in discrimination-aware data mining, there remains the need for robust, yet easily usable, methods for discrimination control. In this paper, we utilize reject option in classification, a general decision theoretic framework for handling instances whose labels are uncertain, for modeling and controlling discriminatory decisions. Specifically, this framework permits a formal treatment of the intuition that instances close to the decision boundary are more likely to be discriminated in a dataset. Based on this framework, we present three different solutions for discrimination-aware classification. The first solution invokes probabilistic rejection in single or multiple probabilistic classifiers while the second solution relies upon ensemble rejection in classifier ensembles. The third solution integrates one of the first two solutions with situation testing which is a procedure commonly used in the court of law. All solutions are easy to use and provide strong justifications for the decisions. We evaluate our solutions extensively on four real-world datasets and compare their performances with previously proposed discrimination-aware classifiers. The results demonstrate the superiority of our solutions in terms of both performance and flexibility of applicability. In particular, our solutions are effective at removing illegal discrimination from the predictions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-33
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Sciences
StatePublished - Sep 29 2017


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