A Bayesian Belief Network Approach for Modeling Complex Domains
Ben K. Daniel (University of Saskatchewan, Canada), Juan-Diego Zapata-Rivera (Educational Testing Service, USA) and Gordon I. McCalla (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
Copyright: © 2007
Bayesian belief networks (BBNs) are increasingly used for understanding and simulating computational models in many domains. Though BBN techniques are elegant ways of capturing uncertainties, knowledge engineering effort required to create and initialize the network has prevented many researchers from using them. Even though the structure of the network and its conditional & initial probabilities could be learned from data, data is not always available or it is too costly to obtain. In addition, current algorithms that can be used to learn relationships among variables, initial and conditional probabilities from data are often complex and cumbersome to employ. Qualitative-based approaches applied to the creation of graphical models can be used to create initial computational models that can help researchers analyze complex problems and provide guidance and support for decision-making. Initial BBN models can be refined once appropriate data is obtained. This chapter extends the use of BBNs to help experts make sense of complex social systems (e.g., social capital in virtual learning communities) using a Bayesian model as an interactive simulation tool. Scenarios are used to find out whether the model is consistent with the expert’s beliefs. The sensitivity analysis was conducted to help explain how the model reacted to different sets of evidence. Currently, we are in the process of refining the initial probability values presented in the model using empirical data and developing more authentic scenarios to further validate the model.