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  1. Abstract

    In biomedical science, analyzing treatment effect heterogeneity plays an essential role in assisting personalized medicine. The main goals of analyzing treatment effect heterogeneity include estimating treatment effects in clinically relevant subgroups and predicting whether a patient subpopulation might benefit from a particular treatment. Conventional approaches often evaluate the subgroup treatment effects via parametric modeling and can thus be susceptible to model mis-specifications. In this paper, we take a model-free semiparametric perspective and aim to efficiently evaluate the heterogeneous treatment effects of multiple subgroups simultaneously under the one-step targeted maximum-likelihood estimation (TMLE) framework. When the number of subgroups is large, we further expand this path of research by looking at a variation of the one-step TMLE that is robust to the presence of small estimated propensity scores in finite samples. From our simulations, our method demonstrates substantial finite sample improvements compared to conventional methods. In a case study, our method unveils the potential treatment effect heterogeneity of rs12916-T allele (a proxy for statin usage) in decreasing Alzheimer's disease risk.

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  2. Summary Causal mediation analysis has historically been limited in two important ways: (i) a focus has traditionally been placed on binary exposures and static interventions and (ii) direct and indirect effect decompositions have been pursued that are only identifiable in the absence of intermediate confounders affected by exposure. We present a theoretical study of an (in)direct effect decomposition of the population intervention effect, defined by stochastic interventions jointly applied to the exposure and mediators. In contrast to existing proposals, our causal effects can be evaluated regardless of whether an exposure is categorical or continuous and remain well-defined even in the presence of intermediate confounders affected by exposure. Our (in)direct effects are identifiable without a restrictive assumption on cross-world counterfactual independencies, allowing for substantive conclusions drawn from them to be validated in randomized controlled trials. Beyond the novel effects introduced, we provide a careful study of nonparametric efficiency theory relevant for the construction of flexible, multiply robust estimators of our (in)direct effects, while avoiding undue restrictions induced by assuming parametric models of nuisance parameter functionals. To complement our nonparametric estimation strategy, we introduce inferential techniques for constructing confidence intervals and hypothesis tests, and discuss open-source software, the $\texttt{medshift}$  $\texttt{R}$ package, implementing the proposed methodology. Application of our (in)direct effects and their nonparametric estimators is illustrated using data from a comparative effectiveness trial examining the direct and indirect effects of pharmacological therapeutics on relapse to opioid use disorder. 
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  3. Contextual bandit algorithms are increasingly replacing non-adaptive A/B tests in e-commerce, healthcare, and policymaking because they can both improve outcomes for study participants and increase the chance of identifying good or even best policies. To support credible inference on novel interventions at the end of the study, nonetheless, we still want to construct valid confidence intervals on average treatment effects, subgroup effects, or value of new policies. The adaptive nature of the data collected by contextual bandit algorithms, however, makes this difficult: standard estimators are no longer asymptotically normally distributed and classic confidence intervals fail to provide correct coverage. While this has been addressed in non-contextual settings by using stabilized estimators, variance stabilized estimators in the contextual setting pose unique challenges that we tackle for the first time in this paper. We propose the Contextual Adaptive Doubly Robust (CADR) estimator, a novel estimator for policy value that is asymptotically normal under contextual adaptive data collection. The main technical challenge in constructing CADR is designing adaptive and consistent conditional standard deviation estimators for stabilization. Extensive numerical experiments using 57 OpenML datasets demonstrate that confidence intervals based on CADR uniquely provide correct coverage. 
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  4. Empirical risk minimization (ERM) is the workhorse of machine learning, whether for classification and regression or for off-policy policy learning, but its model-agnostic guarantees can fail when we use adaptively collected data, such as the result of running a contextual bandit algorithm. We study a generic importance sampling weighted ERM algorithm for using adaptively collected data to minimize the average of a loss function over a hypothesis class and provide first-of-their-kind generalization guarantees and fast convergence rates. Our results are based on a new maximal inequality that carefully leverages the importance sampling structure to obtain rates with the good dependence on the exploration rate in the data. For regression, we provide fast rates that leverage the strong convexity of squared-error loss. For policy learning, we provide regret guarantees that close an open gap in the existing literature whenever exploration decays to zero, as is the case for bandit-collected data. An empirical investigation validates our theory. 
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