An Evaluation of Explanations of Probabilistic Inference

Reference: Suermondt, H. J. & Cooper, G. F. An Evaluation of Explanations of Probabilistic Inference. 1993.

Abstract: Providing explanations of the conclusions of decision-support systems can be viewed as presenting inference results in a manner that enhances the user's insight into how these results were obtained. The ability to explain inferences has been demonstrated to be an important factor in making medical decison-support systems acceptable for clinical use. Although many researchers in artificial intelligence have explored the automatic generation of explanations for decison-support systems based on symbolic reasoning, research in automated explanation of probabilistic results has been limited. We present the results of an evaluation study of INSITE, a program that explains the reasoning of decision-support systems based on Bayesian belief networks. In the domain of anesthesia, we compared subjects who had access to a belief network with explanations of the inference results, to control subjects who used the same belief network without explanations. We show that, compared to control subjects, the explanation subjects demonstrated greater diagnostic accuracy, were more confident about their conclusions, were more critical of the belief network, and found the presentation of the inference results more clear.

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