Inference Networks: Bayes and Wigmore


in Evidence, Inference and Enquiry

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264843
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754050 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Inference Networks: Bayes and Wigmore

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Methods for performing complex probabilistic reasoning tasks, often based on masses of different forms of evidence obtained from a variety of different sources, are being sought by, and developed for, persons in many important contexts including law, medical diagnosis, and intelligence analysis. The complexity of these tasks can often be captured and represented by graphical structures now called inference networks. These networks are directed acyclic graphs (DAGs), consisting of nodes, representing relevant hypotheses, items of evidence, and unobserved variables, and arcs (arrows) joining some of the nodes, representing dependency relations among them. This chapter describes and comments on two different approaches to inference network construction. In the first approach, a DAG network structure is explicitly constructed as a vehicle for probabilistic analyses. Since the associated computations can be regarded as generalising the use of Bayes' rule, such networks are commonly called Bayesian networks. The second approach stems from the work of the American jurist John H. Wigmore who was the very first person to attempt a systematic study of inference networks.

Keywords: probabilistic reasoning; evidence; inference networks; directed acyclic graphs; Bayesian networks; John H. Wigmore

Chapter.  11647 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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