Bayesian Networks for Undergrads and Practicioners,
By A Customer
This review is from: Bayesian Artificial Intelligence (Hardcover)Despite its name "Bayesian Artificial Intelligence" covers Bayesian network (BN) techniques only. Other Bayesian techniques useful for AI are not treated.
The content is divided in three main sections: (1) The basics of probabilistic reasoning with BNs, (2) Causal discovery (finding BNs from data), and (3) "Knowledge engineering".
The first part covers the fundamental concepts and algorithms around BNs and (simple) decision networks. It is well-written and clear, but readers who are not totally new to the field might find only little new information (e.g., loopy belief propagation, continuous densities, large decision networks, etc. are not covered).
The second part is on how to deduce causal relationships from observational data. Constrained-based and Bayesian approaches are covered, but on a rather general level. I am not sure how easy it is to implement the algorithms from the descriptions provided. When it comes to details of the algorithms, proofs, or mathematical background the authors very often refer to the literature due to "lack of space". From a practical standpoint, it is unfortunate that the different methods are compared to each other only superfiscially. For instance, one method presented performs a large number of statistical tests; one would expect that this requires large amounts of data in order to avoid false positive results. Is this a problem? With questions like these the reader is often left alone.
I am not competent to talk about part three (knowledge engineering), so I end with my general impression of the book: I would have appreciated if the authors had treated some the algorithms in greater detail and had spent a few pages on advanced concepts and current research directions. On the other hand, some information provided could have easily been left out. (For instance, how to download and install certain software packages from the internet, Kevin Murphy's well-known survey on BN software packages, screenshots of user dialogs, etc. just eat pages. Providing the URLs to the corresponding sites on the internet is completely sufficient, and the information there is more likely to be up-to-date.) The saved pages could then be spent on information which is not readily available elsewhere.
To summarize: The book provides a mostly well-written general overview of the basic concepts and could serve as a first introduction to the field. However, it leaves the reader often alone when it comes to the mathematical background, potential practical pittfalls, or advanced algorithms.