When modeling a probability distribution with a Bayesian network, we are faced with the problem of how to handle continuous variables. Most previous work has either solved the problem by discretizing, or assumed that the data are generated by a single Gaussian. In this paper we abandon the normality assumption and instead use statistical methods for nonparametric density estimation. For a naive Bayesian classifier, we present experimental results on a variety of natural and artificial domains, comparing two methods of density estimation: assuming normality and modeling each conditional distribution with a single Gaussian; and using nonparametric kernel density estimation. We observe large reductions in error on several natural and artificial data sets, which suggests that kernel estimation is a useful tool for learning Bayesian models.

In this paper, we empirically evaluate algorithms for learning four types of Bayesian network (BN) classifiers - Naive-Bayes, tree augmented Naive-Bayes, BN augmented Naive-Bayes and general BNs, where the latter two are learned using two variants of a conditional-independence (CI) based BN-learning algorithm. Experimental results show the obtained classifiers, learned using the CI based algorithms, are competitive with (or superior to) the best known classifiers, based on both Bayesian networks and other formalisms; and that the computational time for learning and using these classifiers is relatively small. Moreover, these results also suggest a way to learn yet more effective classifiers; we demonstrate empirically that this new algorithm does work as expected. Collectively, these results argue that BN classifiers deserve more attention in machine learning and data mining communities.

Kontkanen, Petri, Myllymaki, Petri, Tirri, Henry

It has been argued that in supervised classification tasks, in practice it may be more sensible to perform model selection with respect to some more focused model selection score, like the supervised (conditional) marginal likelihood, than with respect to the standard marginal likelihood criterion. However, for most Bayesian network models, computing the supervised marginal likelihood score takes exponential time with respect to the amount of observed data. In this paper, we consider diagnostic Bayesian network classifiers where the significant model parameters represent conditional distributions for the class variable, given the values of the predictor variables, in which case the supervised marginal likelihood can be computed in linear time with respect to the data. As the number of model parameters grows in this case exponentially with respect to the number of predictors, we focus on simple diagnostic models where the number of relevant predictors is small, and suggest two approaches for applying this type of models in classification. The first approach is based on mixtures of simple diagnostic models, while in the second approach we apply the small predictor sets of the simple diagnostic models for augmenting the Naive Bayes classifier.

Ziebart, Brian D., Dey, Anind K., Bagnell, J Andrew

Dealing with uncertainty in Bayesian Network structures using maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation or Bayesian Model Averaging (BMA) is often intractable due to the superexponential number of possible directed, acyclic graphs. When the prior is decomposable, two classes of graphs where efficient learning can take place are tree structures, and fixed-orderings with limited in-degree. We show how MAP estimates and BMA for selectively conditioned forests (SCF), a combination of these two classes, can be computed efficiently for ordered sets of variables. We apply SCFs to temporal data to learn Dynamic Bayesian Networks having an intra-timestep forest and inter-timestep limited in-degree structure, improving model accuracy over DBNs without the combination of structures. We also apply SCFs to Bayes Net classification to learn selective forest augmented Naive Bayes classifiers. We argue that the built-in feature selection of selective augmented Bayes classifiers makes them preferable to similar non-selective classifiers based on empirical evidence.

Bayesian network classifiers are used in many fields, and one common class of classifiers are naive Bayes classifiers. In this paper, we introduce an approach for reasoning about Bayesian network classifiers in which we explicitly convert them into Ordered Decision Diagrams (ODDs), which are then used to reason about the properties of these classifiers. Specifically, we present an algorithm for converting any naive Bayes classifier into an ODD, and we show theoretically and experimentally that this algorithm can give us an ODD that is tractable in size even given an intractable number of instances. Since ODDs are tractable representations of classifiers, our algorithm allows us to efficiently test the equivalence of two naive Bayes classifiers and characterize discrepancies between them. We also show a number of additional results including a count of distinct classifiers that can be induced by changing some CPT in a naive Bayes classifier, and the range of allowable changes to a CPT which keeps the current classifier unchanged.