IMI Interdisciplinary Mathematics InstituteCollege of Arts and Sciences

Parameter Identifiability of Discrete Bayesian Networks with Hidden Variables

  • Nov. 2, 2015
  • 3:30 p.m.
  • LeConte 312


Identifiability of parameters is an essential property for a statistical model to be useful in most settings. However, establishing parameter identifiability for Bayesian networks with hidden variables remains challenging. In the context of finite state spaces, we give algebraic arguments establishing identifiability of some special models on small directed acyclic graphs (DAGs). We also establish that, for fixed state spaces, generic identifiability of parameters depends only on the Markov equivalence class of the DAG. To illustrate the use of these results, we investigate identifiability for all binary Bayesian networks with up to five variables, one of which is hidden and parental to all observable ones. Surprisingly, some of these models have parameterizations that are generically 4-to-one, and not 2-to-one as label swapping of the hidden states would suggest. This leads to interesting conflict in interpreting causal effects.

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