Qualitative Propagation and Scenario-based Explanation of Probabilistic Reasoning

Henrion, Max, Druzdzel, Marek J.

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence 

Comprehensible explanations of probabilistic reasoning are a prerequisite for wider acceptance of Bayesian methods in expert systems and decision support systems. A study of human reasoning under uncertainty suggests two different strategies for explaining probabilistic reasoning: The first, qualitative belief propagation, traces the qualitative effect of evidence through a belief network from one variable to the next. This propagation algorithm is an alternative to the graph reduction algorithms of Wellman (1988) for inference in qualitative probabilistic networks. It is based on a qualitative analysis of intercausal reasoning, which is a generalization of Pearl's "explaining away", and an alternative to Wellman's definition of qualitative synergy. The other, Scenario-based reasoning, involves the generation of alternative causal "stories" accounting for the evidence. Comparing a few of the most probable scenarios provides an approximate way to explain the results of probabilistic reasoning. Both schemes employ causal as well as probabilistic knowledge. Probabilities may be presented as phrases and/or numbers. Users can control the style, abstraction and completeness of explanations.