Date of Original Version

February 2011



Abstract or Description

For hard computational problems, stochastic local search has proven to be a competitive approach to finding optimal or approximately optimal problem solutions. Two key research questions for stochastic local search algorithms are: Which algorithms are effective for initialization? When should the search process be restarted? In the present work, we investigate these research questions in the context of approximate computation of most probable explanations (MPEs) in Bayesian networks (BNs). We introduce a novel approach, based on the Viterbi algorithm, to explanation initialization in BNs. While the Viterbi algorithm works on sequences and trees, our approach works on BNs with arbitrary topologies. We also give a novel formalization of stochastic local search, with focus on initialization and restart, using probability theory and mixture models. Experimentally, we apply our mehods to the problem of MPE computation, using a stochastic local search algorithm known as Stochastic Greedy Search. By carefully optimizing both initialization and restart, we reduce the MPE search time for application BNs by several orders of magnitude compared to using uniform at random initialization without restart. On several BNs from aplications, the performance of Stochastic Greedy Search is competitive with clique tree clustering, a state-of-the-art exact algorithm used for MPE computation in BNs.



Published In

IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, 235-247.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.