Bayesian networks are directed acyclic graphs representing independence relationships among a set of random variables. A random variable can be regarded as a set of exhaustive and mutually exclusive propositions. We argue that there are several drawbacks resulting from the propositional nature and acyclic structure of Bayesian networks. To remedy these shortcomings, we propose a probabilistic network where nodes represent unary predicates and which may contain directed cycles. The proposed representation allows us to represent domain knowledge in a single static network even though we cannot determine the instantiations of the predicates before hand. The ability to deal with cycles also enables us to handle cyclic causal tendencies and to recognize recursive plans.
This paper presents a simple framework for Horn clause abduction, with probabilities associated with hypotheses. It is shown how this representation can represent any probabilistic knowledge representable in a Bayesian belief network. The main contributions are in finding a relationship between logical and probabilistic notions of evidential reasoning. This can be used as a basis for a new way to implement Bayesian Networks that allows for approximations to the value of the posterior probabilities, and also points to a way that Bayesian networks can be extended beyond a propositional language.
Within diagnostic reasoning there have been a number of proposed definitions of a diagnosis, and thus of the most likely diagnosis, including most probable posterior hypothesis, most probable interpretation, most probable covering hypothesis, etc. Most of these approaches assume that the most likely diagnosis must be computed, and that a definition of what should be computed can be made a priori, independent of what the diagnosis is used for. We argue that the diagnostic problem, as currently posed, is incomplete: it does not consider how the diagnosis is to be used, or the utility associated with the treatment of the abnormalities. In this paper we analyze several well-known definitions of diagnosis, showing that the different definitions of the most likely diagnosis have different qualitative meanings, even given the same input data. We argue that the most appropriate definition of (optimal) diagnosis needs to take into account the utility of outcomes and what the diagnosis is used for.
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.
Since exact probabilistic inference is intractable in general for large multiply connected belief nets, approximate methods are required. A promising approach is to use heuristic search among hypotheses (instantiations of the network) to find the most probable ones, as in the TopN algorithm. Search is based on the relative probabilities of hypotheses which are efficient to compute. Given upper and lower bounds on the relative probability of partial hypotheses, it is possible to obtain bounds on the absolute probabilities of hypotheses. Best-first search aimed at reducing the maximum error progressively narrows the bounds as more hypotheses are examined. Here, qualitative probabilistic analysis is employed to obtain bounds on the relative probability of partial hypotheses for the BN20 class of networks networks and a generalization replacing the noisy OR assumption by negative synergy. The approach is illustrated by application to a very large belief network, QMR-BN, which is a reformulation of the Internist-1 system for diagnosis in internal medicine.