Collaborating Authors

Heckerman, D.

Decision-Theoretic Foundations for Causal Reasoning

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

We present a definition of cause and effect in terms of decision-theoretic primitives and thereby provide a principled foundation for causal reasoning. Our definition departs from the traditional view of causation in that causal assertions may vary with the set of decisions available. We argue that this approach provides added clarity to the notion of cause. Also in this paper, we examine the encoding of causal relationships in directed acyclic graphs. We describe a special class of influence diagrams, those in canonical form, and show its relationship to Pearl's representation of cause and effect. Finally, we show how canonical form facilitates counterfactual reasoning.

Probabilistic interpretation for MYCIN's certainty factors


The certainty-factor (CF) model is a commonly used method for managing uncertainty in rule-based systems. We review the history and mechanics of the CF model, and delineate precisely its theoretical and practical limitations. In addition, we examine the belief network, a representation that is similar to the CF model but that is grounded firmly in probability theory. We show that the belief-network representation overcomes many of the limitations of the CF model, and provides a promising approach to the practical construction of expert systems.