From Certainty Factors to Belief Networks

David Heckerman, Edward H. Shortliffe

Artificial Intelligence in Medicine |

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The certainty-factor (CF) model is a commonly used method for managing uncertainty in rule-based systems. We review the history and mechanics of the CF model, and delineate precisely its theoretical and practical limitations. In addition, we examine the belief network, a representation that is similar to the CF model but that is grounded firmly in probability theory. We show that the belief-network representation overcomes many of the limitations of the CF model, and provides a promising approach to the practical construction of expert systems.