Paper session 2: Fairness II

11:15
Trade-offs in Fair Redistricting

ABSTRACT. What constitutes a `fair’ electoral districting plan is a discussion dating back to the founding of the United States and, in light of several recent court cases, mathematical developments, and the approaching 2020 U.S. Census, is still a fiercely debated topic today. In light of the growing desire and ability to use algorithmic tools in drawing these districts, we discuss two prototypical formulations of fairness in this domain: drawing the districts by a neutral procedure or drawing them to intentionally induce a desirable electoral outcome. We then generate a large sample of districting plans for North Carolina and Pennsylvania and consider empirically how compactness and partisan symmetry, as instantiations of these frameworks, trade off with each other — increasing the value of one of these necessarily decreases the value of the other.

11:30
Balancing the Tradeoff between Profit and Fairness in Rideshare Platforms during High-Demand Hours

ABSTRACT. Rideshare platforms, when assigning requests to drivers, tend to maximize profit for the system and/or minimize waiting time for riders. Such platforms can exacerbate biases that drivers may have over certain types of requests. We consider the case of peak hours when the demand for rides is more than the supply of drivers. Drivers are well aware of their advantage during the peak hours and can choose to be selective about which rides to accept. Moreover, if in such a scenario, the assignment of requests to drivers (by the platform) is made only to maximize profit and/or minimize wait time for riders, requests of a certain type (\eg from a non-popular pickup location, or to a non-popular drop-off location) might never be assigned to a driver. Such a system can be highly unfair to riders. However, increasing fairness might come at a cost of the overall profit made by the rideshare platform. To balance these conflicting goals, we present a flexible, non-adaptive algorithm, \lpalg, that allows the platform designer to control the profit and fairness of the system via parameters $\alpha$ and $\beta$ respectively. We model the matching problem as an online bipartite matching where the set of drivers is offline and requests arrive online. Upon the arrival of a request, we use \lpalg to assign it to a driver (the driver might then choose to accept or reject it) or reject the request. We formalize the measures of profit and fairness in our setting and show that by using \lpalg, the competitive ratios for profit and fairness measures would be no worse than $\alpha/e$ and $\beta/e$ respectively. Extensive experimental results on both real-world and synthetic datasets confirm the validity of our theoretical lower bounds. Additionally, they show that $\lpalg$ under some choice of $(\alpha, \beta)$ can beat two natural heuristics, Greedy and Uniform, on \emph{both} fairness and profit.

11:45
Fair Allocation through Selective Information Acquisition

ABSTRACT. Public and private institutions must often allocate scare resources under uncertainty. Banks, for example, extend credit to loan applicants based in part on their estimated likelihood of repaying a loan. But when the quality of information differs across candidates (e.g., if some applicants lack traditional credit histories), common lending strategies can lead to undesirable disparities across groups. Here we consider a setting in which decision makers—before allocating resources—can choose to spend some of their limited budget further screening select individuals. We present a computationally efficient algorithm for deciding whom to screen that maximizes a standard measure of social welfare. Intuitively, decision makers should screen candidates on the margin, for whom the additional information could plausibly alter the allocation. We formalize this idea by showing the problem can be reduced to solving a series of linear programs. Both on synthetic and real-world datasets, this strategy improves utility, illustrating the value of targeted information acquisition in such decisions. Further, when there is social value for distributing resources to groups for whom we have a priori poor information—like those without credit scores—our approach can substantially improve the allocation of limited assets.

12:00
Diversity and Inclusion Metrics in Subset Selection

ABSTRACT. The ethical concept of fairness has recently been applied in machine learning (ML) settings to describe a wide range of constraints and objectives. When considering the relevance of ethical concepts to subset selection problems, the concepts of diversity and inclusion are additionally applicable in order to create outputs that account for social power and access differentials. We introduce metrics based on these concepts, which can be applied together, separately, and in tandem with additional fairness constraints. Results from human subject experiments support the proposed criteria. Social choice methods can additionally be leveraged to aggregate and choose preferable sets, and we detail how these may be applied.