A symbolic algebra for the computation of expected utilities in multiplicative influence diagrams

by   Manuele Leonelli, et al.

Influence diagrams provide a compact graphical representation of decision problems. Several algorithms for the quick computation of their associated expected utilities are available in the literature. However, often they rely on a full quantification of both probabilistic uncertainties and utility values. For problems where all random variables and decision spaces are finite and discrete, here we develop a symbolic way to calculate the expected utilities of influence diagrams that does not require a full numerical representation. Within this approach expected utilities correspond to families of polynomials. After characterizing their polynomial structure, we develop an efficient symbolic algorithm for the propagation of expected utilities through the diagram and provide an implementation of this algorithm using a computer algebra system. We then characterize many of the standard manipulations of influence diagrams as transformations of polynomials. We also generalize the decision analytic framework of these diagrams by defining asymmetries as operations over the expected utility polynomials.



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