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defense of probability

By Peter Cheeseman


In this paper, it is argued that probability theory, when used correctly, is sufficient for the task of reasoning under uncertainty. Since numerous authors have rejected probability as inadequate for various reasons, the bulk of the paper is aimed at refuting these claims and indicating the sources of error. In particular, the definition of probability as a measure of belief rather than a frequency ratio is advocated, since a frequency interpretation of probability drastically restricts the domain applicability. Other sources of error include the confusion between relative and absolute probability, the distinction between probability and the uncertainty of that probability. Also, the interaction of logic and probability is discussed and it is argued that many extensions of logic, such as “default logic ” are better understood in a probabilistic framework. The main claim of this paper is that the numerous schemes for representing and reasoning about uncertainty that have appeared in the AI literature are unnecessary – probability is all that is needed. 1

Year: 1985
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