In this paper we propose a network architecture that combines a rule-based approach with that of the neural network paradigm. Our primary motivation for this is to ensure that the knowledge embodied in the network is explicitly encoded in the form of understandable rules. This enables the network's decision to be understood, and provides an audit trail of how that decision was arrived at. We utilize an information theoretic approach to learning a model of the domain knowledge from examples. This model takes the form of a set of probabilistic conjunctive rules between discrete input evidence variables and output class variables. These rules are then mapped onto the weights and nodes of a feedforward neural network resulting in a directly specified architecture. The network acts as parallel Bayesian classifier, but more importantly, can also output posterior probability estimates of the class variables. Empirical tests on a number of data sets show that the rule-based classifier performs comparably with standard neural network classifiers, while possessing unique advantages in terms of knowledge representation and probability estimation.

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