Convex Formulations for Fair Principal Component Analysis


  • Matt Olfat University of California, Berkeley
  • Anil Aswani University of California, Berkeley



Though there is a growing literature on fairness for supervised learning, incorporating fairness into unsupervised learning has been less well-studied. This paper studies fairness in the context of principal component analysis (PCA). We first define fairness for dimensionality reduction, and our definition can be interpreted as saying a reduction is fair if information about a protected class (e.g., race or gender) cannot be inferred from the dimensionality-reduced data points. Next, we develop convex optimization formulations that can improve the fairness (with respect to our definition) of PCA and kernel PCA. These formulations are semidefinite programs, and we demonstrate their effectiveness using several datasets. We conclude by showing how our approach can be used to perform a fair (with respect to age) clustering of health data that may be used to set health insurance rates.




How to Cite

Olfat, M., & Aswani, A. (2019). Convex Formulations for Fair Principal Component Analysis. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 33(01), 663-670.



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