Quantifying Causal Path-Specific Importance in Structural Causal Model

Xiaoxiao Wang, Minda Zhao, Fanyu Meng, Xin Liu, Zhaodan Kong, Xin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Path-specific effect analysis is a powerful tool in causal inference. This paper provides a definition of causal counterfactual path-specific importance score for the structural causal model (SCM). Different from existing path-specific effect definitions, which focus on the population level, the score defined in this paper can quantify the impact of a decision variable on an outcome variable along a specific pathway at the individual level. Moreover, the score has many desirable properties, including following the chain rule and being consistent. Finally, this paper presents an algorithm that can leverage these properties and find the k-most important paths with the highest importance scores in a causal graph effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number133
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • causal
  • path-specific effect
  • structural causal model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Applied Mathematics


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