Probability judgment in artificial intelligence and expert systems

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Historically, the study of artificial intelligence has emphasized symbolic rather than numerical computation. In recent years, however, the practical needs of expert systems have led to an interest in the use of numbers to encode partial confidence. There has been some effort to square the use of these numbers with Bayesian probability ideas, but in most applications not all the inputs required by Bayesian probability analyses are available. This difficulty has led to widespread interest in belief functions, which use probability in a looser way. It must be recognized, however, that even belief functions require more structure than is provided by pure production systems. The need for such structure is inherent in the nature of probability argument and cannot be evaded. Probability argument requires design as well as numerical inputs. The real challenge probability poses to artificial intelligence is to build systems that can design probability arguments. The real challenge artificial intelligence poses to statistics is to explain how statisticians design probability arguments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalStatistical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1987
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Associative memory
  • Bayesian networks
  • Belief functions
  • Certainty factors
  • Conditional independence
  • Constructive probability
  • Diagnostic trees
  • Expert systems
  • Production systems


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