MP Wellman

Artificial Intelligence, 44:257–303, 1990.
Copyright © 1990 Published by Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.


Graphical representations for probabilistic relationships have recently received considerable attention in AI. Qualitative probabilistic networks abstract from the usual numeric representations by encoding only qualitative relationships, which are inequality constraints on the joint probability distribution over the variables. Although these constraints are insufficient to determine probabilities uniquely, they are designed to justify the deduction of a class of relative likelihood conclusions that imply useful decision-making properties.

Two types of qualitative relationship are defined, each a probabilistic form of monotonicity constraint over a group of variables. Qualitative influences describe the direction of the relationship between two variables. Qualitative synergies describe interactions among influences.

The probabilistic definitions chosen justify sound and efficient inference procedures based on graphical manipulations of the network. These procedures answer queries about qualitative relationships among variables separated in the network and determine structural properties of optimal assignments to decision variables.

Includes material from “Probabilistic semantics for qualitative influences”, Sixth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, July 1987.