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Int J Biomed Comput. 1991 May-Jun;28(1-2):1-30.

Medical expert systems based on causal probabilistic networks.

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  • 1Aalborg University, Institute of Electronic Systems, Denmark.


Causal probabilistic networks (CPNs) offer new methods by which you can build medical expert systems that can handle all types of medical reasoning within a uniform conceptual framework. Based on the experience from a commercially available system and a couple of large prototype systems, it appears that CPNs are now an attractive alternative to other methods. A CPN is an intensional model of a domain, and it is therefore conceptually much closer to qualitative reasoning systems and to simulation systems than to rule-based or logic-based systems. Recent progress in Bayesian inference in networks has yielded computationally efficient methods. The inference method used follows the fundamental axioms of probability theory, and gives a sound framework for causal and diagnostic (deductive and abductive) reasoning under uncertainty. Experience with the prototypes indicates that it may be possible to use decision theory as a rational approach to test planning and therapy planning. The way in which knowledge is acquired and represented in CPNs makes it easy to express 'deep knowledge' for example in the form of physiological models, and the facilities for learning make it possible to make a smooth transition from expert opinion to statistics based on empirical data.

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