Constraints occur in many application areas of interest to evolutionary computation. The area considered here is Bayesian networks (BNs), which is a probability-based method for representing and reasoning with uncertain knowledge. This work deals with constraints in BNs and investigates how tournament selection can be adapted to better process such constraints in the context of abductive inference. Abductive inference in BNs consists of finding the most probable explanation given some evidence. Since exact abductive inference is NP-hard, several approximate approaches to this inference task have been developed. One of them applies evolutionary techniques in order to find optimal or close-to-optimal explanations. A problem with the traditional evolutionary approach is this: As the number of constraints determined by the zeros in the conditional probability tables grows, performance deteriorates because the number of explanations whose probability is greater than zero decreases. To minimize this problem, this paper presents and analyzes a new evolutionary approach to abductive inference in BNs. By considering abductive inference as a constraint optimization problem, the novel approach improves performance dramatically when a BN's conditional probability tables contain a significant number of zeros. Experimental results are presented comparing the performances of the traditional evolutionary approach and the approach introduced in this work. The results show that the new approach significantly outperforms the traditional one.

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