Propagation of Belief Functions: A Distributed Approach
Prakash Shenoy, Glenn Shafer, Khaled Mellouli
In this paper, we describe a scheme for propagating belief functions in certain kinds of trees using only local computations. This scheme generalizes the computational scheme proposed by Shafer and Logan1 for diagnostic trees of the type studied by Gordon and Shortliffe, and the slightly more general scheme given by Shafer for hierarchical evidence. It also generalizes the scheme proposed by Pearl for Bayesian causal trees (see Shenoy and Shafer). Pearl's causal trees and Gordon and Shortliffe's diagnostic trees are both ways of breaking the evidence that bears on a large problem down into smaller items of evidence that bear on smaller parts of the problem so that these smaller problems can be dealt with one at a time. This localization of effort is often essential in order to make the process of probability judgment feasible, both for the person who is making probability judgments and for the machine that is combining them. The basic structure for our scheme is a type of tree that generalizes both Pearl's and Gordon and Shortliffe's trees. Trees of this general type permit localized computation in Pearl's sense. They are based on qualitative judgments of conditional independence. We believe that the scheme we describe here will prove useful in expert systems. It is now clear that the successful propagation of probabilities or certainty factors in expert systems requires much more structure than can be provided in a pure production-system framework. Bayesian schemes, on the other hand, often make unrealistic demands for structure. The propagation of belief functions in trees and more general networks stands on a middle ground where some sensible and useful things can be done. We would like to emphasize that the basic idea of local computation for propagating probabilities is due to Judea Pearl. It is a very innovative idea; we do not believe that it can be found in the Bayesian literature prior to Pearl's work. We see our contribution as extending the usefulness of Pearl's idea by generalizing it from Bayesian probabilities to belief functions. In the next section, we give a brief introduction to belief functions. The notions of qualitative independence for partitions and a qualitative Markov tree are introduced in Section III. Finally, in Section IV, we describe a scheme for propagating belief functions in qualitative Markov trees.
Keywords: Belief Functions, Diagnostic Trees
PDF Link: /papers/86/p249-shenoy.pdf
AUTHOR = "Prakash Shenoy
and Glenn Shafer and Khaled Mellouli",
TITLE = "Propagation of Belief Functions: A Distributed Approach",
BOOKTITLE = "Proceedings of the Second Conference Annual Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI-86)",
PUBLISHER = "AUAI Press",
ADDRESS = "Corvallis, Oregon",
YEAR = "1986",
PAGES = "249--260"