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Models vs. Inductive Inference for Dealing With Probabilistic Knowledge

by   Norman C. Dalkey, et al.

Two different approaches to dealing with probabilistic knowledge are examined -models and inductive inference. Examples of the first are: influence diagrams [1], Bayesian networks [2], log-linear models [3, 4]. Examples of the second are: games-against nature [5, 6] varieties of maximum-entropy methods [7, 8, 9], and the author's min-score induction [10]. In the modeling approach, the basic issue is manageability, with respect to data elicitation and computation. Thus, it is assumed that the pertinent set of users in some sense knows the relevant probabilities, and the problem is to format that knowledge in a way that is convenient to input and store and that allows computation of the answers to current questions in an expeditious fashion. The basic issue for the inductive approach appears at first sight to be very different. In this approach it is presumed that the relevant probabilities are only partially known, and the problem is to extend that incomplete information in a reasonable way to answer current questions. Clearly, this approach requires that some form of induction be invoked. Of course, manageability is an important additional concern. Despite their seeming differences, the two approaches have a fair amount in common, especially with respect to the structural framework they employ. Roughly speaking, this framework involves identifying clusters of variables which strongly interact, establishing marginal probability distributions on the clusters, and extending the subdistributions to a more complete distribution, usually via a product formalism. The product extension is justified on the modeling approach in terms of assumed conditional independence; in the inductive approach the product form arises from an inductive rule.


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