Measuring Fairness of a Data Set

This example illustrates how to find unfair rows in a data set using the function and how to check whether each class is distributed equally between values of a selected feature, i.e. measuring the Sample Size Disparity (with function).


Please note that this example uses a data set that is represented as a structured numpy array, which supports mixed data types among columns with the features (columns) being index by the feature name rather than by consecutive integers.

# Author: Kacper Sokol <>
# License: new BSD

from pprint import pprint
import numpy as np

import as fatf_datasets

import as fatf_dfm

import as fatf_data_tools


# Load data
hr_data_dict = fatf_datasets.load_health_records()
hr_X = hr_data_dict['data']
hr_y = hr_data_dict['target']
hr_feature_names = hr_data_dict['feature_names']
hr_class_names = hr_data_dict['target_names']

Systemic Bias

Before we proceed, we need to select which feature are protected, i.e. which ones are illegal to use when generating the prediction.

We use them to see whether the data set contains rows that differ in some of the protected features and the labels (ground truth) but not in the rest of the features.

The example presented below is rather naive as we do not have access to a more complicated dataset within the FAT-Forensics package. To demonstrate the functionality of the we indicate all but one feature to be protected, hence we are guaranteed to find quite a few unfair rows in the health records data set. This means that “unfair” data rows are the ones that have the same value of the diagnosis feature (with rest of the feature values being unimportant) and differ in their target (ground truth) value.

Systematic bias is expressed here as a square matrix (numpy array) of length equal to the number of rows in the data array. Each element of this matrix is a boolean indicating whether the rows in the data array with a particular pair of indices (the row and column indices of the boolean matrix) violate the aforementioned fairness criterion.

# Select which features should be treated as protected
protected_features = [
    'name', 'email', 'age', 'weight', 'gender', 'zipcode', 'dob'

# Compute the data fairness matrix
data_fairness_matrix = fatf_dfm.systemic_bias(hr_X, hr_y, protected_features)

# Check if the data set is unfair (at least one unfair pair of data points)
is_data_unfair = fatf_dfm.systemic_bias_check(data_fairness_matrix)

# Identify which pairs of indices cause the unfairness
unfair_pairs_tuple = np.where(data_fairness_matrix)
unfair_pairs = []
for i, j in zip(*unfair_pairs_tuple):
    pair_a, pair_b = (i, j), (j, i)
    if pair_a not in unfair_pairs and pair_b not in unfair_pairs:

# Print out whether the fairness condition is violated
if is_data_unfair:
    unfair_n = len(unfair_pairs)
    unfair_fill = ('is', '') if unfair_n == 1 else ('are', 's')
    print('\nThere {} {} pair{} of data points that violates the fairness '
          'criterion.\n'.format(unfair_fill[0], unfair_n, unfair_fill[1]))
    print('The data set is fair.\n')

# Show the first pair of violating rows
pprint(hr_X[[unfair_pairs[0][0], unfair_pairs[0][1]]])


There are 26 pairs of data points that violates the fairness criterion.

array([('Heidi Mitchell', '', 74, 52, 'female', '1121', 'cancer', '03/06/2018'),
       ('Kimberly Kent', 'wilsoncarla@mitchell-gree', 63, 51, 'male', '2003', 'cancer', '16/06/2017')],
      dtype=[('name', '<U16'), ('email', '<U25'), ('age', '<i4'), ('weight', '<i4'), ('gender', '<U10'), ('zipcode', '<U6'), ('diagnosis', '<U6'), ('dob', '<U16')])

Sample Size Disparity

The measure of Sample Size Disparity can be achieved by calling the grouping function and counting the number of instances in each group. By doing that for the target vector (ground truth) we can see whether the classes in our data set are balanced for each sub-group defined by a specified set of values for that feature.

In the example below we will check whether there are roughly the same number of data points collected for males and females. Then we will see whether the class distribution (fail and success) for these two sub-populations is similar.

# Group the data based on the unique values of the 'gender' column
grouping_column = 'gender'
grouping_indices, grouping_names = fatf_data_tools.group_by_column(
    hr_X, grouping_column, treat_as_categorical=True)

# Print out the data distribution for the grouping
print('The grouping based on the *{}* feature has the '
      'following distribution:'.format(grouping_column))
for grouping_name, grouping_idx in zip(grouping_names, grouping_indices):
    print('    * "{}" grouping has {} instances.'.format(
        grouping_name, len(grouping_idx)))

# Get the class distribution for each sub-grouping
grouping_class_distribution = dict()
for grouping_name, grouping_idx in zip(grouping_names, grouping_indices):
    sg_y = hr_y[grouping_idx]
    sg_classes, sg_counts = np.unique(sg_y, return_counts=True)

    grouping_class_distribution[grouping_name] = dict()
    for sg_class, sg_count in zip(sg_classes, sg_counts):
        sg_class_name = hr_class_names[sg_class]

        grouping_class_distribution[grouping_name][sg_class_name] = sg_count

# Print out the class distribution per sub-group
print('\nThe class distribution per sub-population:')
for grouping_name, class_distribution in grouping_class_distribution.items():
    print('    * For the "{}" grouping the classes are distributed as '
    for class_name, class_count in class_distribution.items():
        print('        - The class *{}* has {} data points.'.format(
            class_name, class_count))


The grouping based on the *gender* feature has the following distribution:
    * "('female',)" grouping has 12 instances.
    * "('male',)" grouping has 9 instances.

The class distribution per sub-population:
    * For the "('female',)" grouping the classes are distributed as follows:
        - The class *fail* has 5 data points.
        - The class *success* has 7 data points.
    * For the "('male',)" grouping the classes are distributed as follows:
        - The class *fail* has 5 data points.
        - The class *success* has 4 data points.

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 0.062 seconds)

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