March 26, 2023

Bias detection in knowledge and mannequin outcomes is a elementary requirement for constructing accountable synthetic intelligence (AI) and machine studying (ML) fashions. Sadly, detecting bias isn’t a straightforward activity for the overwhelming majority of practitioners as a result of massive variety of methods during which it may be measured and various factors that may contribute to a biased final result. As an example, an imbalanced sampling of the coaching knowledge might end in a mannequin that’s much less correct for sure subsets of the information. Bias may be launched by the ML algorithm itself—even with a well-balanced coaching dataset, the outcomes may favor sure subsets of the information as in comparison with the others.

To detect bias, it’s essential to have an intensive understanding of various kinds of bias and the corresponding bias metrics. For instance, on the time of this writing, Amazon SageMaker Make clear gives 21 completely different metrics to select from.

On this publish, we use an earnings prediction use case (predicting consumer incomes from enter options like schooling and variety of hours labored per week) to exhibit various kinds of biases and the corresponding metrics in SageMaker Make clear. We additionally develop a framework that can assist you determine which metrics matter to your software.

Introduction to SageMaker Make clear

ML fashions are being more and more used to assist make choices throughout quite a lot of domains, corresponding to monetary companies, healthcare, schooling, and human sources. In lots of conditions, it’s necessary to know why the ML mannequin made a particular prediction and in addition whether or not the predictions have been impacted by bias.

SageMaker Make clear supplies instruments for each of those wants, however on this publish we solely concentrate on the bias detection performance. To study extra about explainability, try Explaining Bundesliga Match Information xGoals utilizing Amazon SageMaker Make clear.

SageMaker Make clear is part of Amazon SageMaker, which is a completely managed service to construct, practice, and deploy ML fashions.

Examples of questions on bias

To floor the dialogue, the next are some pattern questions that ML builders and their stakeholders might have concerning bias. The checklist consists of some common questions that could be related for a number of ML purposes, in addition to questions on particular purposes like doc retrieval.

You may ask, given the teams of curiosity within the coaching knowledge (for instance, males vs. girls) which metrics ought to I exploit to reply the next questions:

  • Does the group illustration within the coaching knowledge mirror the true world?
  • Do the goal labels within the coaching knowledge favor one group over the opposite by assigning it extra optimistic labels?
  • Does the mannequin have completely different accuracy for various teams?
  • In a mannequin whose goal is to establish certified candidates for hiring, does the mannequin have the identical precision for various teams?
  • In a mannequin whose goal is to retrieve paperwork related to an enter question, does the mannequin retrieve related paperwork from completely different teams in the identical proportion?

In the remainder of this publish, we develop a framework for learn how to take into account answering these questions and others by the metrics obtainable in SageMaker Make clear.

Use case and context

This publish makes use of an current instance of a SageMaker Make clear job from the Equity and Explainability with SageMaker Make clear pocket book and explains the generated bias metric values. The pocket book trains an XGBoost mannequin on the UCI Grownup dataset (Dua, D. and Graff, C. (2019). UCI Machine Studying Repository. Irvine, CA: College of California, Faculty of Info and Pc Science).

The ML activity on this dataset is to foretell whether or not an individual has a yearly earnings of kind of than $50,000. The next desk exhibits some cases together with their options. Measuring bias in earnings prediction is necessary as a result of we may use these predictions to tell choices like low cost gives and focused advertising and marketing.

Bias terminology

Earlier than diving deeper, let’s evaluation some important terminology. For an entire checklist of phrases, see Amazon SageMaker Make clear Phrases for Bias and Equity.

  • Label – The goal characteristic that the ML mannequin is skilled to foretell. An noticed label refers back to the label worth noticed within the knowledge used to coach or check the mannequin. A predicted label is the worth predicted by the ML mannequin. Labels might be binary, and are sometimes encoded as 0 and 1. We assume 1 to signify a positive or optimistic label (for instance, earnings greater than or equal to $50,000), and 0 to signify an unfavorable or destructive label. Labels may additionally include greater than two values. Even in these circumstances, a number of of the values represent favorable labels. For the sake of simplicity, this publish solely considers binary labels. For particulars on dealing with labels with greater than two values and labels with steady values (for instance, in regression), see Amazon AI Equity and Explainability Whitepaper.
  • Side – A column or characteristic with respect to which bias is measured. In our instance, the aspect is intercourse and takes two values: girl and man, encoded as feminine and male within the knowledge (this knowledge is extracted from the 1994 Census and enforces a binary possibility). Though the publish considers a single aspect with solely two values, for extra complicated circumstances involving a number of aspects or aspects with greater than two values, see Amazon AI Equity and Explainability Whitepaper.
  • Bias – A big imbalance within the enter knowledge or mannequin predictions throughout completely different aspect values. What constitutes “important” relies on your software. For many metrics, a price of 0 implies no imbalance. Bias metrics in SageMaker Make clear are divided into two classes:
    • Pretraining – When current, pretraining bias signifies imbalances within the knowledge solely.
    • Posttraining – Posttraining bias moreover considers the predictions of the fashions.
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Let’s look at every class individually.

Pretraining bias

Pretraining bias metrics in SageMaker Make clear reply the next query: Do all aspect values have equal (or comparable) illustration within the knowledge? It’s necessary to examine the information for pretraining bias as a result of it might translate into posttraining bias within the mannequin predictions. As an example, a mannequin skilled on imbalanced knowledge the place one aspect worth seems very hardly ever can exhibit considerably worse accuracy for that aspect worth. Equal illustration may be calculated over the next:

  • The entire coaching knowledge regardless of the labels
  • The subset of the coaching knowledge with optimistic labels solely
  • Every label individually

The next determine supplies a abstract of how every metric suits into every of the three classes.

Some classes include a couple of metric. The essential metrics (gray containers) reply the query about bias in that class within the easiest type. Metrics in white containers moreover cowl particular circumstances (for instance, Simpson’s paradox) and consumer preferences (for instance, specializing in sure components of the inhabitants when computing predictive efficiency).

Side worth illustration regardless of labels

The one metric on this class is Class Imbalance (CI). The objective of this metric is to measure if all of the aspect values have equal illustration within the knowledge.

CI is the distinction within the fraction of the information constituted by the 2 aspect values. In our instance dataset, for the aspect intercourse, the breakdown (proven within the pie chart) exhibits that ladies represent 32.4% of the coaching knowledge, whereas males represent 67.6%. Consequently:

CI = 0.676 - 0.324 = 0.352

A severely excessive class imbalance may result in worse predictive efficiency for the aspect worth with smaller illustration.

Side worth illustration on the degree of optimistic labels solely

One other option to measure equal illustration is to verify whether or not all aspect values include an identical fraction of samples with optimistic noticed labels. Optimistic labels include favorable outcomes (for instance, mortgage granted, chosen for the job), so analyzing optimistic labels individually helps assess if the favorable choices are distributed evenly.

In our instance dataset, the noticed labels break down into optimistic and destructive values, as proven within the following determine.

11.4% of all girls and 31.4% of all males have the optimistic label (darkish shaded area within the left and proper bars). The Distinction in Optimistic Proportions in Labels (DPL) measures this distinction.

DPL = 0.314 - 0.114 = 0.20

The superior metric on this class, Conditional Demographic Disparity in Labels (CDDL), measures the variations within the optimistic labels, however stratifies them with respect to a different variable. This metric helps management for the Simpson’s paradox, a case the place a computation over the entire knowledge exhibits bias, however the bias disappears when grouping the information with respect to some side-information.

The 1973 UC Berkeley Admissions Examine supplies an instance. In keeping with the information, males have been admitted at a better price than girls. Nevertheless, when examined on the degree of particular person college departments, girls have been admitted at comparable or larger price at every division. This statement may be defined by the Simpson’s paradox, which arose right here as a result of girls utilized to varsities that have been extra aggressive. Consequently, fewer girls have been admitted general in comparison with males, though faculty by faculty they have been admitted at an identical or larger price.

For extra element on how CDDL is computed, see Amazon AI Equity and Explainability Whitepaper.

Side worth illustration on the degree of every label individually

Equality in illustration may also be measured for every particular person label, not simply the optimistic label.

Metrics on this class compute the distinction within the label distribution of various aspect values. The label distribution for a aspect worth incorporates all of the noticed label values, together with the fraction of samples with that label’s worth. As an example, within the determine displaying labels distributions, 88.6% of ladies have a destructive noticed label and 11.4% have a optimistic noticed label. So the label distribution for girls is [0.886, 0.114] and for males is [0.686, 0.314].

The essential metric on this class, Kullback-Leibler divergence (KL), measures this distinction as:

KL = [0.686 x log(0.686/0.886)] + [0.314 x log(0.314/0.114)] = 0.143

The superior metrics on this class, Jensen-Shannon divergence (JS), Lp-norm (LP), Whole Variation Distance (TVD), and Kolmogorov-Smirnov (KS), additionally measure the distinction between the distributions however have completely different mathematical properties. Barring particular circumstances, they’ll ship insights just like KL. For instance, though the KL worth may be infinity when a aspect worth incorporates no samples with a sure labels (for instance, no males with a destructive label), JS avoids these infinite values. For extra element into these variations, see Amazon AI Equity and Explainability Whitepaper.

Relationship between DPL (Class 2) and distribution-based metrics of KL/JS/LP/TVD/KS (Class 3)

Distribution-based metrics are extra naturally relevant to non-binary labels. For binary labels, owing to the truth that imbalance within the optimistic label can be utilized to compute the imbalance in destructive label, the distribution metrics ship the identical insights as DPL. Subsequently, you possibly can simply use DPL in such circumstances.

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Posttraining bias

Posttraining bias metrics in SageMaker Make clear assist us reply two key questions:

  • Are all aspect values represented at an identical price in optimistic (favorable) mannequin predictions?
  • Does the mannequin have comparable predictive efficiency for all aspect values?

The next determine exhibits how the metrics map to every of those questions. The second query may be additional damaged down relying on which label the efficiency is measured with respect to.

Equal illustration in optimistic mannequin predictions

Metrics on this class verify if all aspect values include an identical fraction of samples with optimistic predicted label by the mannequin. This class of metrics is similar to the pretraining metrics of DPL and CDDL—the one distinction is that this class considers predicted labels as an alternative of noticed labels.

In our instance dataset, 4.5% of all girls are assigned the optimistic label by the mannequin, and 13.7% of all males are assigned the optimistic label.

The essential metric on this class, Distinction in Optimistic Proportions in Predicted Labels (DPPL), measures the distinction within the optimistic class assignments.

DPPL = 0.137 - 0.045 = 0.092

Discover how within the coaching knowledge, a better fraction of males had a optimistic noticed label. In an identical method, a better fraction of males are assigned a optimistic predicted label.

Shifting on to the superior metrics on this class, Disparate Impression (DI) measures the identical disparity in optimistic class assignments, however as an alternative of the distinction, it computes the ratio:

DI = 0.045 / 0.137 = 0.328

Each DI and DPPL convey qualitatively comparable insights however differ at some nook circumstances. As an example, ratios are inclined to explode to very massive numbers if the denominator is small. Take an instance of the numbers 0.1 and 0.0001. The ratio is 0.1/0.0001 = 10,000 whereas the distinction is 0.1 – 0.0001 ≈ 0.1. Not like the opposite metrics the place a price of 0 implies no bias, for DI, no bias corresponds to a price of 1.

Conditional Demographic Disparity in Predicted Labels (CDDPL) measures the disparity in aspect worth illustration within the optimistic label, however identical to the pretraining metric of CDDL, it additionally controls for the Simpson’s paradox.

Counterfactual Fliptest (FT) measures if comparable samples from the 2 aspect values obtain comparable choices from the mannequin. A mannequin assigning completely different choices to 2 samples which are comparable to one another however differ within the aspect values might be thought-about biased in opposition to the aspect worth being assigned the unfavorable (destructive) label. Given the primary aspect worth (girls), it assesses whether or not comparable members with the opposite aspect worth (males) have a unique mannequin prediction. Related members are chosen primarily based on the k-nearest neighbor algorithm.

Equal efficiency

The mannequin predictions may need comparable illustration in optimistic labels from completely different aspect values, but the mannequin efficiency on these teams may considerably differ. In lots of purposes, having an identical predictive efficiency throughout completely different aspect values may be fascinating. The metrics on this class measure the distinction in predictive efficiency throughout aspect values.

As a result of the information may be sliced in many alternative methods primarily based on the noticed or predicted labels, there are lots of alternative ways to measure predictive efficiency.

Equal predictive efficiency regardless of labels

You may take into account the mannequin efficiency on the entire knowledge, regardless of the noticed or the expected labels – that’s, the general accuracy.

The next figures exhibits how the mannequin classifies inputs from the 2 aspect values in our instance dataset. True negatives (TN) are circumstances the place each the noticed and predicted label have been 0. False positives (FP) are misclassifications the place the noticed label was 0 however the predicted label was 1. True positives (TP) and false negatives (FN) are outlined equally.

For every aspect worth, the general mannequin efficiency, that’s, the accuracy for that aspect worth, is:

Accuracy = (TN + TP) / (TN + FP + FN + TP)

With this components, the accuracy for girls is 0.930 and for males is 0.815. This results in the one metric on this class, Accuracy Distinction (AD):

AD = 0.815 - 0.930 = -0.115

AD = 0 implies that the accuracy for each teams is similar. Bigger (optimistic or destructive) values point out bigger variations in accuracy.

Equal efficiency on optimistic labels solely

You may limit the mannequin efficiency evaluation to optimistic labels solely. As an example, if the appliance is about detecting defects on an meeting line, it might be fascinating to verify that non-defective components (optimistic label) of various sorts (aspect values) are labeled as non-defective on the similar price. This amount is known as recall, or true optimistic price:

Recall = TP / (TP + FN)

In our instance dataset, the recall for girls is 0.389, and the recall for males is 0.425. This results in the fundamental metric on this class, the Recall Distinction (RD):

RD = 0.425 - 0.389 = 0.036

Now let’s take into account the three superior metrics on this class, see which consumer preferences they encode, and the way they differ from the fundamental metric of RD.

First, as an alternative of measuring the efficiency on the optimistic noticed labels, you could possibly measure it on the optimistic predicted labels. Given a aspect worth, corresponding to girls, and all of the samples with that aspect worth which are predicted to be optimistic by the mannequin, what number of are literally accurately labeled as optimistic? This amount is known as acceptance price (AR), or precision:

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AR = TP / (TP + FP)

In our instance, the AR for girls is 0.977, and the AR for males is 0.970. This results in the Distinction in Acceptance Price (DAR):

DAR = 0.970 - 0.977 = -0.007

One other option to measure bias is by combining the earlier two metrics and measuring what number of extra optimistic predictions the fashions assign to a aspect worth as in comparison with the noticed optimistic labels. SageMaker Make clear measures this benefit by the mannequin because the ratio between the variety of noticed optimistic labels for that aspect worth, and the variety of predicted optimistic labels, and refers to it as conditional acceptance (CA):

CA = (TP + FN) / (TP + FP)

In our instance, the CA for girls is 2.510 and for males is 2.283. The distinction in CA results in the ultimate metric on this class, Distinction in Conditional Acceptance (DCA):

DCA = 2.283 - 2.510 = -0.227

Equal efficiency on destructive labels solely

In a way just like optimistic labels, bias may also be computed because the efficiency distinction on the destructive labels. Contemplating destructive labels individually may be necessary in sure purposes. As an example, in our defect detection instance, we would wish to detect faulty components (destructive label) of various sorts (aspect worth) on the similar price.

The essential metric on this class, specificity, is analogous to the recall (true optimistic price) metric. Specificity computes the accuracy of the mannequin on samples with this aspect worth which have an noticed destructive label:

Specificity = TN / (TN + FP)

In our instance (see the confusion tables), the specificity for ladies and men is 0.999 and 0.994, respectively. Consequently, the Specificity Distinction (SD) is:

SD = 0.994 - 0.999 = -0.005

Shifting on, identical to the acceptance price metric, the analogous amount for destructive labels—the rejection price (RR)—is:

RR = TN / (TN + FN)

The RR for girls is 0.927 and for males is 0.791, resulting in the Distinction in Rejection Price (DRR) metric:

DRR = 0.927 - 0.791 = -0.136

Lastly, the destructive label analogue of conditional acceptance, the conditional rejection (CR), is the ratio between the variety of noticed destructive labels for that aspect worth, and the variety of predicted destructive labels:

CR = (TN + FP) / (TN + FN)

The CR for girls is 0.928 and for males is 0.796. The ultimate metric on this class is Distinction in Conditional Rejection (DCR):

DCR = 0.796 - 0.928 = 0.132

Equal efficiency on optimistic vs. destructive labels

SageMaker Make clear combines the earlier two classes by contemplating the mannequin efficiency ratio on the optimistic and destructive labels. Particularly, for every aspect worth, SageMaker Make clear computes the ration between false negatives (FN) and false positives (FP). In our instance, the FN/FP ratio for girls is 679/10 = 67.9 and for males is 3678/84 = 43.786. This results in the Therapy Equality (TE) metric, which measures the distinction between the FP/FN ratio:

TE = 67.9 - 43.786 = 24.114

The next screenshot exhibits how you should use SageMaker Make clear with Amazon SageMaker Studio to point out the values in addition to ranges and quick descriptions of various bias metrics.

Questions on bias: Which metrics to begin with?

Recall the pattern questions on bias at the beginning of this publish. Having gone by the metrics from completely different classes, take into account the questions once more. To reply the primary query, which considerations the representations of various teams within the coaching knowledge, you could possibly begin with the Class Imbalance (CI) metric. Equally, for the remaining questions, you can begin by trying into Distinction in Optimistic Proportions in Labels (DPL), Accuracy Distinction (AD), Distinction in Acceptance Price (DAR), and Recall Distinction (RD), respectively.

Bias with out aspect values

For the benefit of exposition, this description of posttraining metrics excluded the Generalized Entropy Index (GE) metric. This metric measures bias with out contemplating the aspect worth, and may be useful in assessing how the mannequin errors are distributed. For particulars, consult with Generalized entropy (GE).


On this publish, you noticed how the 21 completely different metrics in SageMaker Make clear measure bias at completely different levels of the ML pipeline. You discovered about varied metrics through an earnings prediction use case, how to decide on metrics to your use case, and which of them you could possibly begin with.

Get began along with your accountable AI journey by assessing bias in your ML fashions by utilizing the demo pocket book Equity and Explainability with SageMaker Make clear. Yow will discover the detailed documentation for SageMaker Make clear, together with the formal definition of metrics, at What Is Equity and Mannequin Explainability for Machine Studying Predictions. For the open-source implementation of the bias metrics, consult with the aws-sagemaker-clarify GitHub repository. For an in depth dialogue together with limitations, consult with Amazon AI Equity and Explainability Whitepaper.

Concerning the authors

Bilal Zafar is an Utilized Scientist at AWS, engaged on Equity, Explainability and Safety in Machine Studying.


Denis V. Batalov is a Options Architect for AWS, specializing in Machine Studying. He’s been with Amazon since 2005. Denis has a PhD within the discipline of AI. Comply with him on Twitter: @dbatalov.

Michele Donini is a Sr Utilized Scientist at AWS. He leads a group of scientists engaged on Accountable AI and his analysis pursuits are Algorithmic Equity and Explainable Machine Studying.