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Modeling the user knowledge by belief networks

De Rosis, F., Pizzutilo, S., Russo, A., Berry, D. C. and Molina, F.J.N. (1992) Modeling the user knowledge by belief networks. User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, 2 (4). pp. 367-388. ISSN 0924-1868

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/BF01101110


This paper describes the user modeling component of EPIAIM, a consultation system for data analysis in epidemiology. The component is aimed at representing knowledge of concepts in the domain, so that their explanations can be adapted to user needs. The first part of the paper describes two studies aimed at analysing user requirements. The first one is a questionnaire study which examines the respondents' familiarity with concepts. The second one is an analysis of concept descriptions in textbooks and from expert epidemiologists, which examines how discourse strategies are tailored to the level of experience of the expected audience. The second part of the paper describes how the results of these studies have been used to design the user modeling component of EPIAIM. This module works in a two-step approach. In the first step, a few trigger questions allow the activation of a stereotype that includes a "body" and an "inference component". The body is the representation of the body of knowledge that a class of users is expected to know, along with the probability that the knowledge is known. In the inference component, the learning process of concepts is represented as a belief network. Hence, in the second step the belief network is used to refine the initial default information in the stereotype's body. This is done by asking a few questions on those concepts where it is uncertain whether or not they are known to the user, and propagating this new evidence to revise the whole situation. The system has been implemented on a workstation under UNIX. An example of functioning is presented, and advantages and limitations of the approach are discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:4685

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