Testing independencies in Bayesian networks (BNs) is a fundamental task in probabilistic reasoning. In this paper, we propose inaugural-separation (i-separation) as a new method for testing independencies in BNs. We establish the correctness of i-separation. Our method has several theoretical and practical advantages. There are at least five ways in which i-separation is simpler than d-separation, the classical method for testing independencies in BNs, of which the most important is that "blocking" works in an intuitive fashion. In practice, our empirical evaluation shows that i-separation tends to be faster than d-separation in large BNs.
The construction of causal graphs from non-experimental data rests on a set of constraints that the graph structure imposes on all probability distributions compatible with the graph. These constraints are of two types: conditional independencies and algebraic constraints, first noted by Verma. While conditional independencies are well studied and frequently used in causal induction algorithms, Verma constraints are still poorly understood, and rarely applied. In this paper we examine a special subset of Verma constraints which are easy to understand, easy to identify and easy to apply; they arise from "dormant independencies," namely, conditional independencies that hold in interventional distributions. We give a complete algorithm for determining if a dormant independence between two sets of variables is entailed by the causal graph, such that this independence is identifiable, in other words if it resides in an interventional distribution that can be predicted without resorting to interventions. We further show the usefulness of dormant independencies in model testing and induction by giving an algorithm that uses constraints entailed by dormant independencies to prune extraneous edges from a given causal graph.
We extend the theory of d-separation to cases in which data instances are not independent and identically distributed. We show that applying the rules of d-separation directly to the structure of probabilistic models of relational data inaccurately infers conditional independence. We introduce relational d-separation, a theory for deriving conditional independence facts from relational models. We provide a new representation, the abstract ground graph, that enables a sound, complete, and computationally efficient method for answering d-separation queries about relational models, and we present empirical results that demonstrate effectiveness.
The criterion commonly used in directed acyclic graphs (dags) for testing graphical independence is the well-known d-separation criterion. It allows us to build graphical representations of dependency models (usually probabilistic dependency models) in the form of belief networks, which make easy interpretation and management of independence relationships possible, without reference to numerical parameters (conditional probabilities). In this paper, we study the following combinatorial problem: finding the minimum d-separating set for two nodes in a dag. This set would represent the minimum information (in the sense of minimum number of variables) necessary to prevent these two nodes from influencing each other. The solution to this basic problem and some of its extensions can be useful in several ways, as we shall see later. Our solution is based on a two-step process: first, we reduce the original problem to the simpler one of finding a minimum separating set in an undirected graph, and second, we develop an algorithm for solving it.