An Edge Deletion Semantics for Belief Propagation and its Practical Impact on Approximation Quality

Arthur Choi, Adnan Darwiche

We show in this paper that the influential algorithm of iterative belief propagation can be understood in terms of exact inference on a polytree, which results from deleting enough edges from the original network. We show that deleting edges implies adding new parameters into a network, and that the iterations of belief propagation are searching for values of these new parameters which satisfy intuitive conditions that we characterize. The new semantics lead to the following question: Can one improve the quality of approximations computed by belief propagation by recovering some of the deleted edges, while keeping the network easy enough for exact inference? We show in this paper that the answer is yes, leading to another question: How do we choose which edges to recover? To answer, we propose a specific method based on mutual information which is motivated by the edge deletion semantics. Empirically, we provide experimental results showing that the quality of approximations can be improved without incurring much additional computational cost. We also show that recovering certain edges with low mutual information may not be worthwhile as they increase the computational complexity, without necessarily improving the quality of approximations.

Subjects: 3.4 Probabilistic Reasoning

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