# Context-specific approximation in probabilistic inference

in Proc. Fourteenth
Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial
Intelligence (UAI-98), pages 447-454.
### Abstract

There is evidence that the numbers in probabilistic inference don't
really matter. This paper considers the idea that we can make a
probabilistic model simpler by making fewer
distinctions. Unfortunately, the level of a Bayesian network seems too
coarse; it is unlikely that a parent will make little difference for
all values of the other parents. In this paper we consider an
approximation scheme where distinctions can be ignored in some
contexts, but not in other contexts. We elaborate on a notion of a
parent context that allows a structured context-specific decomposition
of a probability distribution and the associated probabilistic
inference scheme called probabilistic partial evaluation
(Poole 1997). This paper shows a way to simplify a probabilistic
model by ignoring distinctions which have similar probabilities, a
method to exploit the simpler model, a bound on the resulting errors,
and some preliminary empirical results on simple networks.
You can get the
pdf or get the postscript.

Last updated 8 May 1998 - David Poole