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A Formal Semantics of Influence in Bayesian Reasoning

21 Aug 2017 [ preprint ]

Crossover influence is introduced and used to formalise d-separation in Bayesian networks.

This paper proposes a formal definition of influence in Bayesian reasoning, based on the notions of state (as probability distribution), predicate, validity and conditioning. Our approach highlights how conditioning a joint entwined/entangled state with a predicate on one of its components has `crossover’ influence on the other components. We use the total variation metric on probability distributions to quantitatively measure such influence. These insights are applied to give a rigorous explanation of the fundamental concept of d-separation in Bayesian networks.