Mitigating Algorithmic Bias with Limited Annotations

Guanchu Wang, Mengnan Du, Ninghao Liu, Na Zou, Xia Hu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Existing work on fairness modeling commonly assumes that sensitive attributes for all instances are fully available, which may not be true in many real-world applications due to the high cost of acquiring sensitive information. When sensitive attributes are not disclosed or available, it is needed to manually annotate a small part of the training data to mitigate bias. However, the skewed distribution across different sensitive groups preserves the skewness of the original dataset in the annotated subset, which leads to non-optimal bias mitigation. To tackle this challenge, we propose Active Penalization Of Discrimination (APOD), an interactive framework to guide the limited annotations towards maximally eliminating the effect of algorithmic bias. The proposed APOD integrates discrimination penalization with active instance selection to efficiently utilize the limited annotation budget, and it is theoretically proved to be capable of bounding the algorithmic bias. According to the evaluation on five benchmark datasets, APOD outperforms the state-of-the-arts baseline methods under the limited annotation budget, and shows comparable performance to fully annotated bias mitigation, which demonstrates that APOD could benefit real-world applications when sensitive information is limited. The source code of the proposed method is available at:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMachine Learning and Knowledge Discovery in Databases
Subtitle of host publicationResearch Track - European Conference, ECML PKDD 2023, Proceedings
EditorsDanai Koutra, Claudia Plant, Manuel Gomez Rodriguez, Elena Baralis, Francesco Bonchi
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783031434143
StatePublished - 2023
EventEuropean Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases, ECML PKDD 2023 - Turin, Italy
Duration: Sep 18 2023Sep 22 2023

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume14170 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases, ECML PKDD 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


  • Bias mitigation
  • Limitied annotation


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