On the Role of Context-Specific Independence in Probabilistic Inference

Nevin. L. Zhang
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
David Poole
University of British Columbia


Context-specific independence (CSI) refers to conditional independencies that are true only in specific contexts. It has been found useful in various inference algorithms for Bayesian networks. This paper studies the role of CSI in general. We provide a characterization of the computational leverages offered by CSI without referring to particular inference algorithms. We identify the issues that need to be addressed in order to exploit the leverages and show how those issues can be addressed. We also provide empirical evidence that demonstrates the usefulness of CSI.


Bayesian networks, Context-specific independence, Inference, partial functions, union-products.


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