Conditioning is crucial in applied science when inference involving time series is involved. Belief calculus is an effective way of handling such inference in the presence of epistemic uncertainty -- unfortunately, different approaches to conditioning in the belief function framework have been proposed in the past, leaving the matter somewhat unsettled. Inspired by the geometric approach to uncertainty, in this paper we propose an approach to the conditioning of belief functions based on geometrically projecting them onto the simplex associated with the conditioning event in the space of all belief functions. We show here that such a geometric approach to conditioning often produces simple results with straightforward interpretations in terms of degrees of belief. This raises the question of whether classical approaches, such as for instance Dempster's conditioning, can also be reduced to some form of distance minimisation in a suitable space. The study of families of combination rules generated by (geometric) conditioning rules appears to be the natural prosecution of the presented research.
Probability theory is far from being the most general mathematical theory of uncertainty. A number of arguments point at its inability to describe second-order ('Knightian') uncertainty. In response, a wide array of theories of uncertainty have been proposed, many of them generalisations of classical probability. As we show here, such frameworks can be organised into clusters sharing a common rationale, exhibit complex links, and are characterised by different levels of generality. Our goal is a critical appraisal of the current landscape in uncertainty theory.
The categorial approach to evidential reasoning can be seen as a combination of the probability kinematics approach of Richard Jeffrey (1965) and the maximum (cross-) entropy inference approach of E. T. Jaynes (1957). As a consequence of that viewpoint, it is well known that category theory provides natural definitions for logical connectives. In particular, disjunction and conjunction are modelled by general categorial constructions known as products and coproducts. In this paper, I focus mainly on Dempster-Shafer theory of belief functions for which I introduce a category I call Dempster?s category. I prove the existence of and give explicit formulas for conjunction and disjunction in the subcategory of separable belief functions. In Dempster?s category, the new defined conjunction can be seen as the most cautious conjunction of beliefs, and thus no assumption about distinctness (of the sources) of beliefs is needed as opposed to Dempster?s rule of combination, which calls for distinctness (of the sources) of beliefs.
We present examples where the use of belief functions provided sound and elegant solutions to real life problems. These are essentially characterized by ?missing' information. The examples deal with 1) discriminant analysis using a learning set where classes are only partially known; 2) an information retrieval systems handling inter-documents relationships; 3) the combination of data from sensors competent on partially overlapping frames; 4) the determination of the number of sources in a multi-sensor environment by studying the inter-sensors contradiction. The purpose of the paper is to report on such applications where the use of belief functions provides a convenient tool to handle ?messy' data problems.