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A Rational Distributed Process-level Account of Independence Judgment

by   Ardavan S. Nobandegani, et al.
McGill University

It is inconceivable how chaotic the world would look to humans, faced with innumerable decisions a day to be made under uncertainty, had they been lacking the capacity to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant---a capacity which computationally amounts to handling probabilistic independence relations. The highly parallel and distributed computational machinery of the brain suggests that a satisfying process-level account of human independence judgment should also mimic these features. In this work, we present the first rational, distributed, message-passing, process-level account of independence judgment, called D^∗. Interestingly, D^∗ shows a curious, but normatively-justified tendency for quick detection of dependencies, whenever they hold. Furthermore, D^∗ outperforms all the previously proposed algorithms in the AI literature in terms of worst-case running time, and a salient aspect of it is supported by recent work in neuroscience investigating possible implementations of Bayes nets at the neural level. D^∗ nicely exemplifies how the pursuit of cognitive plausibility can lead to the discovery of state-of-the-art algorithms with appealing properties, and its simplicity makes D^∗ potentially a good candidate for pedagogical purposes.


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