Poland, William B., Shachter, Ross D.

This paper compares three approaches to the problem of selecting among probability models to fit data (1) use of statistical criteria such as Akaike's information criterion and Schwarz's "Bayesian information criterion," (2) maximization of the posterior probability of the model, and (3) maximization of an effectiveness ratio? trading off accuracy and computational cost. The unifying characteristic of the approaches is that all can be viewed as maximizing a penalized likelihood function. The second approach with suitable prior distributions has been shown to reduce to the first. This paper shows that the third approach reduces to the second for a particular form of the effectiveness ratio, and illustrates all three approaches with the problem of selecting the number of components in a mixture of Gaussian distributions. Unlike the first two approaches, the third can be used even when the candidate models are chosen for computational efficiency, without regard to physical interpretation, so that the likelihood and the prior distribution over models cannot be interpreted literally. As the most general and computationally oriented of the approaches, it is especially useful for artificial intelligence applications.

Cobb, Barry, Shenoy, Prakash P.

Mixtures of truncated exponentials (MTE) potentials are an alternative to discretization for representing continuous chance variables in influence diagrams. Also, MTE potentials can be used to approximate utility functions. This paper introduces MTE influence diagrams, which can represent decision problems without restrictions on the relationships between continuous and discrete chance variables, without limitations on the distributions of continuous chance variables, and without limitations on the nature of the utility functions. In MTE influence diagrams, all probability distributions and the joint utility function (or its multiplicative factors) are represented by MTE potentials and decision nodes are assumed to have discrete state spaces. MTE influence diagrams are solved by variable elimination using a fusion algorithm.

The main goal of this paper is to describe a method for exact inference in general hybrid Bayesian networks (BNs) (with a mixture of discrete and continuous chance variables). Our method consists of approximating general hybrid Bayesian networks by a mixture of Gaussians (MoG) BNs. There exists a fast algorithm by Lauritzen-Jensen (LJ) for making exact inferences in MoG Bayesian networks, and there exists a commercial implementation of this algorithm. However, this algorithm can only be used for MoG BNs. Some limitations of such networks are as follows. All continuous chance variables must have conditional linear Gaussian distributions, and discrete chance nodes cannot have continuous parents. The methods described in this paper will enable us to use the LJ algorithm for a bigger class of hybrid Bayesian networks. This includes networks with continuous chance nodes with non-Gaussian distributions, networks with no restrictions on the topology of discrete and continuous variables, networks with conditionally deterministic variables that are a nonlinear function of their continuous parents, and networks with continuous chance variables whose variances are functions of their parents.

Recently developed techniques have made it possible to quickly learn accurate probability density functions from data in low-dimensional continuous space. In particular, mixtures of Gaussians can be fitted to data very quickly using an accelerated EM algorithm that employs multiresolution kd-trees (Moore, 1999). In this paper, we propose a kind of Bayesian networks in which low-dimensional mixtures of Gaussians over different subsets of the domain's variables are combined into a coherent joint probability model over the entire domain. The network is also capable of modeling complex dependencies between discrete variables and continuous variables without requiring discretization of the continuous variables. We present efficient heuristic algorithms for automatically learning these networks from data, and perform comparative experiments illustrated how well these networks model real scientific data and synthetic data. We also briefly discuss some possible improvements to the networks, as well as possible applications.

Stensmo, Magnus, Sejnowski, Terrence J.

Diagnosis of human disease or machine fault is a missing data problem since many variables are initially unknown. Additional information needs to be obtained. The j oint probability distribution of the data can be used to solve this problem. We model this with mixture models whose parameters are estimated by the EM algorithm. This gives the benefit that missing data in the database itself can also be handled correctly. The request for new information to refine the diagnosis is performed using the maximum utility principle. Since the system is based on learning it is domain independent and less labor intensive than expert systems or probabilistic networks. An example using a heart disease database is presented.