The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
Forrest Hill & 80 South Bridge

PhD Thesis #9613

Title:Biomedical Applications of Belief Networks
Date: 1996
Abstract:Biomedecine is an area in which computers have long been expected to play a significant role. Although many of the early claims have proved unrealistic, computers are gradually becoming accepted in the biomedical, clinical and research environment. Within these application areas, expert systems appear to have met with the most resistance, especially when applied to image interpretation. In order to improve the acceptance of computerised decision support systems it is necessary to provide the information needed to make rational judgements concerning the inferences the system has made. This entails an explanation of what inferences were made, how the inferences were made and how the results of the inference are to be interpreted. Furthermore there must be a consistent approach to the combining of information from low level computational processes through to high level expert analyses.Until recently ad hoc formalisms were seen as the only tractable approach to reasoning under uncertainty. A review of some of these formalisms suggests that they are less than ideal for the purposes of decision making. Belief networks provide a tractable way of utilising probability theory as an inference formalism by combining the theoretical consistency of probability for inference and decision making, with the ability to use the knowledge of domain experts. The potential of belief networks in biomedical applications has already been recognised and there has been substantial research into the use of belief networks for medical diagnosis and methods for handling large, interconnected networks. In this thesis the use of belief networks is extended to include detailed image model matching to show how, in principle, feature measurement can be undertaken in a fully probabilistic way.

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