This article is an introduction to double/debiased machine learning using short-stacking in R. Topics discussed below include:

- Estimation with a single machine learner
- Estimation with multiple machine learners & short-stacking
- Estimation using different types of short-stacking

See Articles for discussions of more advanced topics.

For illustration, we apply `ddml`

to the included random
subsample of 5,000 observations from the data of Angrist & Evans
(1998). The data contains information on the labor supply of mothers,
their children, as well as demographic data. See `?AE98`

for
details.

```
# Load ddml and set seed
library(ddml)
set.seed(35611)
# Construct variables from the included Angrist & Evans (1998) data
= AE98[, "worked"]
y = AE98[, "morekids"]
D = AE98[, "samesex"]
Z = AE98[, c("age","agefst","black","hisp","othrace","educ")] X
```

`ddml_late`

estimates the local average treatment effect
(LATE) using double/debiased machine learning (see
`?ddml_late`

). The high-dimensional nuisance parameters
arising in the estimate of the LATE are conditional expectation
functions of the control variables \(X\). In particular, we require first step
estimates of the reduced forms \(E[Y|Z=z, X],
E[D|Z=z, X]\) for \(z=0,1\) and
\(E[Z|X]\). In the absence of
functional form assumptions, these conditional expectations need to be
estimated nonparametrically.

Here, we consider gradient boosting from the popular xgboost package to estimate the
nuisance parameters. The function `mdl_xgboost`

is a wrapper
for `xgboost`

, allowing to specify all parameters of the
original function. See `?mdl_xgboost`

for details and take a
look at `vignette("new_ml_wrapper")`

to learn how to write a
wrapper for a different machine learner yourself.

```
# Specify a single learner
<- list(what = mdl_xgboost,
learners_single args = list(nrounds = 10,
max_depth = 1))
```

Double/debiased machine learning relies on cross-fitting to avoid
large bias from overfitting when estimating the nuisance parameters. The
argument `sample_folds = 3`

implies that 2/3 of the
observations – about 3,333 observations – are used to train the machine
learner in each cross-fitting sample fold.

```
# Estimate the local average treatment effect using xgboost.
<- ddml_late(y, D, Z, X,
late_fit learners = learners_single,
sample_folds = 3,
silent = TRUE)
summary(late_fit)
#> LATE estimation results:
#>
#> Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)
#> -0.244 0.196 -1.25 0.213
```

(Note that estimation here is based on a random subsample of 5,000 observations. The results can thus not readily be compared to those in Angrist & Evans (1998).)

Since the statistical properties of machine learners depend heavily
on the underlying (unknown!) structure of the data, adaptive combination
of multiple machine learners can increase robustness. In the below
snippet, `ddml_late`

estimates the LATE with short-stacking
based on three *base* learners:

- linear regression (see
`?ols`

) - lasso (see
`?mdl_glmnet`

) - gradient boosting (see
`?mdl_xgboost`

)

```
<- list(list(fun = ols),
learners_multiple list(fun = mdl_glmnet),
list(fun = mdl_xgboost,
args = list(nrounds = 10,
max_depth = 1)))
```

Short-stacking is a computationally convenient variant of stacking
originally introduced by Wolpert (1992). Stacking constructs linear
combinations of base learners to minimize the out-of-sample mean squared
error of a particular reduced form (e.g., \(E[Z|X]\)). Short-stacking uses the
out-of-sample predictions that naturally arise in computation of
double/debiased machine learning estimates due to cross-fitting, which
substantially reduces the computational burden (see
`vignette("stacking")`

).

In finite samples, regularizing the linear combination of base
learners as constructed via (short-)stacking can improve statistical
properties. This can be specified via the `ensemble_type`

argument. Below, `ddml_late`

estimates the nuisance
parameters via linear combinations of the four base learners with linear
coefficients that are constrained to be non-negative and sum to one.

```
# Estimate the local average treatment effect using short-stacking with base
# learners ols, lasso, and xgboost.
<- ddml_late(y, D, Z, X,
late_fit learners = learners_multiple,
ensemble_type = 'nnls1',
shortstack = TRUE,
sample_folds = 3,
silent = TRUE)
summary(late_fit)
#> LATE estimation results:
#>
#> Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)
#> nnls1 -0.212 0.188 -1.12 0.261
```

It is often insightful to see which base learners contribute the most to the final reduced form estimates. The below snippet shows the weights for the reduced forms \(E[Y|Z=0,X]\) and \(E[Y|Z=1,X]\):

```
cat("Stacking weights for E[Y|Z=0, X]: \n")
#> Stacking weights for E[Y|Z=0, X]:
t(late_fit$weights$y_X_Z0)
#> [,1] [,2] [,3]
#> nnls1 0.228205 0.5782117 0.1935833
cat("Stacking weights for E[Y|Z=1, X]: \n")
#> Stacking weights for E[Y|Z=1, X]:
t(late_fit$weights$y_X_Z1)
#> [,1] [,2] [,3]
#> nnls1 0.2389935 0.6920264 0.0689801
```

`ddml`

supports multiple schemes for constructing linear
combinations of base learners. Since each of them relies on the
out-of-sample predictions of the base learners, it is computationally
cheap to compute them simultaneously. The below snippet estimates the
LATE using the base learners in four different linear combinations:

`'nls'`

constraints the coefficients of each base learner to be non-negative`'singlebest'`

selects the single MSPE-minimizing base learner`'ols`

constructs unconstrained linear combinations of base learners`'average'`

computes an unweighted average of base learners

```
# Estimate the local average treatment effect using short-stacking with base
# learners ols, lasso, ridge, and xgboost.
<- ddml_late(y, D, Z, X,
late_fit learners = learners_multiple,
ensemble_type = c('nnls', 'singlebest',
'ols', 'average'),
shortstack = TRUE,
sample_folds = 3,
silent = TRUE)
summary(late_fit)
#> LATE estimation results:
#>
#> Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)
#> nnls -0.232 0.190 -1.22 0.222
#> singlebest -0.232 0.190 -1.22 0.223
#> ols -0.237 0.190 -1.24 0.214
#> average -0.223 0.188 -1.18 0.237
```

Angrist J, Evans W (1998). “Children and Their Parents’ Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size.” American Economic Review, 88(3), 450-477.

Wolpert D H (1992). “Stacked generalization.” Neural Networks, 5(2), 241-259.