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Concept# Causal model

Summary

In the philosophy of science, a causal model (or structural causal model) is a conceptual model that describes the causal mechanisms of a system. Several types of causal notation may be used in the development of a causal model. Causal models can improve study designs by providing clear rules for deciding which independent variables need to be included/controlled for.
They can allow some questions to be answered from existing observational data without the need for an interventional study such as a randomized controlled trial. Some interventional studies are inappropriate for ethical or practical reasons, meaning that without a causal model, some hypotheses cannot be tested.
Causal models can help with the question of external validity (whether results from one study apply to unstudied populations). Causal models can allow data from multiple studies to be merged (in certain circumstances) to answer questions that cannot be answered by any individual data set.
Causal models have found applications in signal processing, epidemiology and machine learning.
Causal models are mathematical models representing causal relationships within an individual system or population. They facilitate inferences about causal relationships from statistical data. They can teach us a good deal about the epistemology of causation, and about the relationship between causation and probability. They have also been applied to topics of interest to philosophers, such as the logic of counterfactuals, decision theory, and the analysis of actual causation. Judea Pearl defines a causal model as an ordered triple , where U is a set of exogenous variables whose values are determined by factors outside the model; V is a set of endogenous variables whose values are determined by factors within the model; and E is a set of structural equations that express the value of each endogenous variable as a function of the values of the other variables in U and V.
Aristotle defined a taxonomy of causality, including material, formal, efficient and final causes.

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