J. Intelligent Learning Systems & Applications, 2010, 2, 156-166
doi:10.4236/jilsa.2010.23019 Published Online August 2010 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/jilsa)
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for
Validation of a Bayesian Belief Network
Gursel Serpen, Michael Riesen
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering, University of Toledo; School of Law, University of Toledo,
Toledo, USA.
Email: gserpen@eng.utoledo.edu, riesen@fraser-ip.com
Received February 23th, 2010; revised July 6th, 2010; accepted July 20th, 2010.
This paper proposes machine learning techniques to discover knowledge in a dataset in the form of if-then rules for the
purpose of formulating queries for validation of a Bayesian belief network model of the same data. Although domain
expertise is often available, th e query formulation task is tedious and labo rious, and hence automatio n of query formu-
lation is desirable. In an effort to automate the query formulation process, a machine learning algorithm is leveraged to
discover knowledge in th e form of if-then ru les in the data from which th e Bayesian belief network model u nder valida-
tion was also induced. The set of if-then rules are processed and filtered through domain expertise to identify a subset
that consists of “interesting” and “significant” rules. The subset of interesting and significant rules is formulated into
corresponding queries to be posed, for validation purposes, to the Bayesian belief network induced from the same
dataset. The promise of the proposed methodology was assessed through an empirical study performed on a real-life
dataset, the National Crime Victimization Survey, which has over 250 attributes and well over 200,000 data points. The
study demonstrated that the proposed approach is feasible and provides automation, in part, of the query formulation
process for validation of a complex probabilistic model, which cu lminates in subs tantial savings for the need for human
expert involvement and investment.
Keywords: Rule Induction, Semi-A ut o mat ed Query Generation, Bayesian Net Validation, Knowledge Acquisition
Bottleneck, Crime Da ta, National Crime Victimization Survey
1. Introduction
Query formulation is an essential step in the v alidation of
complex probabilistic reasoning models that are induced
from data using machine learning or statistical techniques.
Bayesian belief networks (BBN) have proven to be
computationally viable empirical probabilistic models of
data [1]. Advances in machine learning, data mining, and
knowledge discovery and extraction fields greatly aided
in maturation of Bayesian belief networks, particularly
for classification and probabilistic reasoning tasks. A
Bayesian belief network can be created through a multi-
tude of means: it can be induced solely from data, hand-
crafted by a domain expert, or a combination of these
two techniques can be leveraged. A Bayesian belief net-
work model essentially approximates the full joint prob-
ability distribution in the domain of interest. The de-
velopment of a Bayesian belief network model is fol-
lowed by a rigorous validation phase to ascertain that the
model in fact approximates the full joint probability dis-
tribution reasonably well, even under the set of inde-
pendence assumptions made. Validation is a comprehen-
sive, multi-part process and often requires costly domain
expert involvement an d labor.
When a BBN model is used as a probabilistic reason-
ing engine, the validation requires a complex and chal-
lenging approach, wherein a multitude of validation-re-
lated activities must be performed [2-5] and as part of
one such activity, queries must be formed and posed to
the network. Any subset of variables might be considered
as evidence in such a query, which leads to the need to
formulate an inordinate number of queries based on
various subsets of variables. During validation by query-
ing, a value assignment to some variables in the network
is made and the posterior marginal probability or expec-
tation of some other variables is desired. In other words,
marginal probabilities and expectations can be calculated
conditiona lly on any number of observations or eviden ce
supplied to the network. It is also desirable, given that
certain evidence is supplied, to ask for the values of
non-evidence variables that result in the maximum pos-
sible posterior probability for the evidence, i.e., an ex-
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network 157
planation for the available evidence. One can specify a
group of variables in the network to be estimated or es-
timate all variables in the network collectively. The ex-
isting literature for validation of BBNs as probabilistic
reasoning tools is sparse and mainly promotes ad hoc
approaches or mechanisms.
The formulation of an appropriate “query” requires the
use of extrinsic methods in order to discover relation-
ships among attributes. More specifically, in forming a
query, access to a specific domain expertise can prove to
be an efficient method in choosing which attributes to
include as evidence and which attributes to identify for
explanation or estimation. Experts in the domain of the
focus data can prove to be a useful resource in forming
the queries. However, there are many challenges in util-
izing domain experts in manual formulation of queries
and these challenges are in addition to the shear cost and
resources needed.
Conducting interviews with one or preferably more
experts in the relevant field of interest is one of the pre-
liminary steps in manual query formulation. Such inter-
views typically expose many issues and challenges asso-
ciated with relying on experts in the field to focus and to
form queries. Experts interviewed are likely to demon-
strate an interest in forming unique queries that would
parallel their own expertise or interest, which might not
fully overlap with the specific domain on which the
model was built [6]. The list of potential queries sug-
gested by the domain experts could prove to be inappli-
cable as the specific dataset employed to develop the
BBN model might not include all the attributes sought by
the domain experts. In other circumstances, experts may
be interested in applying local and regional attributes
rather than the global attributes or the national attributes
used in the dataset.
It is highly desirable to develop an automated proce-
dure that formulates queries by leveraging the same data-
set that was employed to induce the Bayesian belief net-
work model. In similar terms, exploration of other, and
possibly automated, ‘options’ in generating useful and
possibly non-obvious queries would be attractive. Data
mining and machine learning techniques can be em-
ployed, through an inductive process, to discover auto-
matically “queries” from a given dataset. More specifi-
cally, rule discovery and ex traction algorithms can prove
useful in “query formation”. Examples of specific such
algorithms are PART [7] and APRIORI [8].
1.1 Problem Statement
Validation of a complex Bayesian belief network, i.e.,
one that has on the order of hundreds of variables, in-
duced from a large dataset, like the National Crime Vic-
timization Survey (NCVS), is a highly challenging task
since it requires major investment of resources and do-
main expertise, while also being labor-intensive. The data
mining and knowledge discovery algorithms are poised
to offer a certain degree of relief from this challenge, and
hence can be leveraged to automate segments of the
overall process of query formation for validation. A ma-
chine learning or data mining algorithm can be leveraged
to mine for rules in a dataset from which the Bayesian
belief network model was induced, wherein these rules
can be formulated as queries for validation purpo ses. Th e
proposed study envisions processing a large and complex
dataset through a ru le-generation algorith m 1) to discover
embedded knowledge in the form of if-then rules, and
subsequently 2) to identify, through expert involvement,
a subset of “interesting” and “significant” rules that can
be formulated as queries for validation of the Bayesian
belief net work m od el of the data s et.
The next section discusses and elaborates on validation
of a Bayesian belief network (BBN) model of a dataset,
automatic query generation through a specific knowledge
discovery tool, th e NCVS dataset leveraged for th is stud y,
and the development of a BBN model on the same data-
set. The subsequent section will demonstrate application
of the proposed methodology to discover rules in the data
set, filtering of rules to identify an interesting and sig-
nificant subset, mapping of chosen rules into queries, and
demonstration of application of such queries for valida-
tion purposes on a specific BBN model of a real-life size
dataset that has over 250 attributes and 200,000 data
points, namely the National Crime Victimization Survey.
2. Background
This section discusses fundamental aspects of the prob-
lem being addressed. Elaborations on validating Bayes-
ian belief networks when employed as probabilistic rea-
soning models, query formulation with the help of ma-
chine learning and data mining, the dataset used for the
study, National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), and
the development of the Bayesian belief network model of
the dataset are presented.
2.1 The NCVS Dataset
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) [9-10],
previously the National Crime Survey (NCS), has been
collecting data on personal and household victimization
through an ongoing survey of a nationally representative
sample of residential addresses since 1973. The geo-
graphic coverage is 50 United States. The ‘universe’ is
persons in the United States aged 12 and over in “core”
counties within the top 40 National Crime Victimization
Survey Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). The sam-
ple used was a stratified multistage cluster sample. The
NCVS MSA Incident data that was chosen for this study
contains select household, person, and crime incident
variables for persons wh o reported a v iolent crime within
any of the core counties of the 40 largest MSAs from
January 1979 through December 2004. Household, per-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network
son, and incident information for persons reporting
non-violent crime are excluded from this file. The NCVS,
which contains 216,203 instances and a total of 259 at-
tributes, uses a labeling system for the attributes repre-
sented by letters and numbers. A typical attribute of in-
terest is labeled by a five character (alpha-numeric) tag, e.
g., V4529.
2.2 Bayesian Belief Network Model of NCVS
A Bayesian belief network (BBN) expresses a view of
the joint probability distribution of a set of variables,
given a collection of independence relationships. This
means that a Bayesian belief network will correctly rep-
resent a joint probability distribution and simplify the
computations if and only if the con ditional independence
assumptions hold. The task of determining a full joint
distribution, in a brute-force fashion, is daunting. Such
calculations are computationally expensive and in some
instances impossible. In order to address this formidable
computational challenge, Bayesian belief networks are
built upon conditional independence assumptions that
appear to hold in many domains of interest.
A Bayesian belief network enables the user to extract a
posterior belief. All causal relationships and conditional
probabilities are incorporated into the network and are
accessible through an automated inference process. A
once tedious and costly (in terms of computation) me-
thod of extracting posterior beliefs in a given domain is
now space-efficient and time-efficient. It is also possible
to make queries on any attribute of one’s choosing as
long as it is one of those included in the model. One can
easily adjust the prior evidence in the same manner ena-
bling him to effectively compare and contrast posterior
probabilities of a given attribute based on prior knowl-
edge. The introduction of such a method has increased
the breadth and depth of statistical analysis exponen-
The BBN creation process consists of multiple phases.
Following any preprocessing needed on a given dataset,
the learning or training phase starts, wherein appropriate
structure learner and parameter learner algorithms need
to be selected by means of empirical means [11-17].
Learning a Bayesian belief network is a two stage proc-
ess: first learn a network structure and then learn the
probability tables. There are various software tools, some
in the public domain and open source, to accomplish the
development of a BBN through induction from data. For
instance, the open-source and public-domain software
tool WEKA [7], a machine learning tool that facilitates
empirical development of clustering, classification, and
functional approximation algorithms, has been leveraged
to develop a BBN from the NCVS dataset for the study
reported herein.
The validation phase can best be managed through a
software tool that can implement the “probabilistic in-
ferencing” procedure applicable for Bayesian belief net-
works. Another open-source and public-domain software
tool, the JavaBayes [18] was used for this purpose, which
is able to import an already-built BBN model, and facili-
tate through its graphical user interface querying of any
attribute for its posterior probability value among many
other options. A BBN model developed in WEKA can
easily be imported into the JavaBayes. Once imported,
the JavaBayes allows the user to identify and enter the
evidence, and query a posterior belief of any attribute.
In this study, the BayesNet tool of the WEKA has
been used to induce a classifier with the “Victimization”
attribute in the NCVS dataset as the class label [19].
The NCVS dataset has been split into training and test
subsets with 66% and 33% ratios, respectively. Simula-
tions were run for a variety of structure and parameter
learning options. Results suggest that a number of BBN
models performed exceptionally well as classifiers for
the “Victimization” attribute in the NCVS dataset. All
WEKA versions of the local hill climbers and local K2
search algorithms led to classification performances on
the test subset with 98% or better accuracy. Since the
classification accuracy rates were so close to each other,
the value of parameter “number of parent nodes” became
significant given that it directly relates to the approxima-
tion capability of the BBN to the full joint distribution.
Accordingly, the BBN model generated through the local
K2 algorithm with Bayes learning and four parent nodes
(the command-line syntax is “Local K2-P4-N-S BAYES”
in WEKA format) was selected as the final network. This
model, which, upon request, can be obtained in BIF for-
mat from the authors, has been used exclusively in the
validation experiments reported in the following sections.
2.3 Validation of Bayesian Belief Networks
Validation of a Bayesian belief network is a comprehen-
sive process. Once the Bayesian belief network (BBN) is
induced from the data and subsequently tuned by the
domain experts, the next step is the testing for validation
of the premise that the network faithfully represents the
full joint probability distribution subject to conditional
independence assumptions [5,20,21]. As part of the vali-
dation task, values computed by the BBN are compared
with those supplied by the domain experts, statistical
analysis, and the literature. Another distinct activity for
validation entails querying any variable for its posterior
distribution or posterior expectation, and to obtain an
explanation for a subset of or all of the variables in the
network. In that respect, knowledge discovery and data
mining tools, in conjunction with the domain experts, are
leveraged to formulate a set of so-called “interesting”
and “significant” queries to pose to the BBN. Validating
a BNN is no trivial task and necessitates ad hoc and em-
pirical elements. More specifically, a comprehensive and
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network 159
rigorous process of evaluation and validation of a BBN
model entails the following:
1) Perform elicitation review that consists of reviewing
the graph structure for the model, and reviewing and
comparing probabilities with each other [22].
2) Carry out sensitivity analysis that measures the ef-
fect of one variable on another [3].
3) Implement validation using the data that entails
analysis of predictive accuracy and expected value cal-
4) Conduct case-based evaluations that may include
the following: run the model on test cases, compare the
model output with the expert judgment, and finally,
compare the model predictions with the “ground truth” or
accepted trends currently relied upon by experts in the
domain of interest.
The case-based evaluations validation step is the most
costly and challenging since it requires sub s tantial human
expertise. In particular, elicitation of expert judgment to
be leveraged for the validation of the Bayesian belief
network poses a serious obstacle since numerous test
cases or “queries” must be generated and applied to the
Bayesian belief network model. The expected values
must be defined in advance by human experts to form a
basis for comparison with those calculated by the net-
work itself.
2.4 Query Formulation
Machine learning and data mining techniques may be
leveraged to automatically discover “queries” for a given
dataset. A query is the calculation of the posterior prob-
abilities of any attribute or variable based upon the given
prior evidence. When a user provides that a specific at-
tribute is observed to have a (discrete) value, this ‘evi-
dence’ may be used in calculating the posterior probabil-
ity of a dependent variable. This is best understood by an
example. Assume that the user makes a query for the
posterior probability that a person will be a victim of
burglary. This query is dependent upon the values ob-
served for relevant attributes like the gender of the po-
tential victim. If burglary is shown to b e dependent upon
the gender of the victim, then the prior observed value of
male or female for the potential victim’s gender will need
to be supplied by the user in order to calculate the condi-
tional probability of this incident. This is analogous to
an if-then rule: such a rule is a candidate for a query. One
rule could postulate that
If the gender of the victim is female Then the prob-
ability of burglary will be gr eater than 0.60.
By having such a rule at one’s disposal, the process of
making valid and knowledgeable queries can be stream-
lined. One does not necessarily have to solely rely on an
expert for help to formulate “interesting” and “signifi-
cant” queries. A rule set may be generated using one of
many knowledge discovery algorithms, which can be
structured to produce a set of if-then rules. Machine
learning and data mining techniques prove useful for
discovering knowledge that can be modeled as a set of
if-then rules. Among the viable algorithms, PART [23],
C4.5 or C5 [24], and RIPPER [25] from machine learn-
ing, and APRIORI [8] and its derivatives from the data
mining fields are pr ominent.
3. Automation of Query Generation
This section presents application of machine learning
algorithms for knowledge discovery in the form of
if-then rules on the NCVS dataset for the purpose of
formulating queries to the Bayesian belief network model
of the same dataset. Although da ta mining algorithms are
also appropriate for knowledge extraction and subse-
quent automation of the query formulation process [26],
their computation al cost may quickly become prohib itive
if care is not exercised. Decision tree or list based algo-
rithms within the domain of machine learning are ap-
pealing in that they can generate a rule set for a given
single attribute of interest often within reasonable spatio-
temporal cost bounds. Accordingly, the machine learning
algorithm PART is chosen for the rule discovery and
extraction task given its desirable algorithmic and com-
putational properties. The PART algorithm [23] combines
two approaches, C4.5 [24] and RIPPER [25] in an at-
tempt to avoid their respective disadvantages. The main
steps for validation of a Bayesian belief net model of
data through automated query generation are shown in
Figure 1.
The rule induction algorithm PART is applied to the
NCVS dataset in order to extract a set of rules. The same
rules are leveraged, following further processing by do-
main experts, as queries to the BBN model of the NCVS
Use Machine Learning rule induction algorithms to
derive a rule set in If-Then format from data
Convert the rule set into a query set and filter the que-
ries for “interestingness” and “significance” with the
help of doma in ex per ts
Apply selected queries to Bayesian belief net model of
the same data for validation purposes
Solicit domain experts to evaluate the query responses
by the Bayesian belief network model
Figure 1. Generic overview of steps for Bayesian belief net
validation through automated query generations
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network
dataset for validation purposes. In itially, a subset of rules
is labeled as “interesting” and “significant” by the do-
main experts, wherein “interesting” is a subjective label-
ing by a particular domain expert based upon the rela-
tionship of the evidence and the resultant projected
probability of the THEN con sequent variable. Next, these
rules are formulated as queries and evidence associated
with each query supplied to the BBN model on Java-
Bayes. Posterior probability calculations performed by
the JavaBayes reasoning or inferencing engine for the
attribute(s) of interest, which can be any subset from the
list, are compared to expected values. This is done to
infer if, in fact, the BBN model approximates reason ably
well the joint probab ility distribution for the set of attrib-
utes entailed by the NCVS dataset.
3.1 PART Algorithm and Rules on NCVS Data
Rules that are derived from a dataset through a machine
learning algorithm like PART expose the relationship
between a subset of attributes and a single attribute of
interest (or the class label), i.e. in this case the class label
is designated as the “Victimization” due to its signifi-
cance in the domain. Any attribute can be designated as
the class label and would require a separate run of the
PART algorithm to generate the set of rules whose con-
sequents are the class label. Through the PART algo-
rithm, the knowledge entailed by the dataset is captured
into a framework with a set of if-then rules. Specifically,
the format for a rule complies with the following: IF
premise THEN consequent, where the premise is a
statement of the form of a logical conjunction of a subset
of attribute-value pairs, and the consequent represents a
certain type of victimization. We have used the WEKA
implementation of the PART algorithm throughout this
study. Available options for the PART as implemented
in the WEKA package and their associated default set-
tings are shown in Table 1.
The NCVS Incident dataset was preprocessed prior to
the rule induction step: the attribute count was reduced
from 259 to 225 through removal of those that were not
deemed to be relevant for the study. The attributes in th e
NCVS Incident dataset are represented, with a few ex-
ceptions, by a label that has four numeric characters pre-
ceded by the letter “V”. The PART algorithm was ap-
plied to the NCVS dataset with default parameter values
and the V4529 (Victimization) as the class attribute.
Values for the V4529 attribute are shown in Table 2. The
algorithm was trained on a 66%-33% training-testing split
of the NCVS dataset, and generated a list of 176 rules [ 2 7 ] .
The rules output are in the traditional IF-THEN format,
where the premise is the logical conjunction of a set of
attribute-valu e pairs (i.e., evidence) followed by the con-
sequent which is a specific value of the class attribute.
Table 3 illustrates one of the rules discovered by the
PART algorithm on the NCVS data and its interpretation.
Table 1. Parameter optio ns and default values for the WEKA
PART algorithm.
PART OptionExplanation Default
-C number Confidence threshold for pruning 0.25
-M number Minimum number of instances per leaf2
-R Use reduced error pruning False
-N number Number of folds for reduced error
pruning 3
-B Use binary splits for nominal attributesFalse
-U Generate unpruned decision list False
-Q <seed> Se ed for random data shuffling 1
Table 2. Values for the NCVS attribute V4529
Label Description of Values for “Victimization” Attribute V4529
x60Completed/Attempted rape
x61Sexual attack/assault/serious assault
x62 Attempted/completed robbery with injury from serious
x63Attempted/completed robbery with injury from minor assault
x64Attempted/completed robbery without injury
x65Attempted/completed aggravated assault
x66Threatened assault with weapon
x67Simple assault completed with injury
x68Assault without weapon without injury
x69Verbal threat of rape/sexual assault
x70Verbal threat of assault
x71Attempted/Completed purse snatching and pocket picking
x73Attempted forcible entry
x74Attempted/completed motor vehicle theft
x75Attempted/completed theft
3.2 Query Formulation Based on PART Rules
The process of query formulation using the PART rules
and posing the queries to the BBN model entails human
expert involvement and is the focus of the discussion in
this section. A PART rule, which is captured th rough the
“IF-premise-THEN-consequent” framework, readily lends
itself to the query formation: the premise becomes the
prior evidence for a query, where posterior probability
value calculation is desired for the rule consequent. Such
queries may be employed to validate, among other uses,
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network 161
Table 3. A sample rule generated by the PART algorithm
and its interpretation
PART Rule Interpretation
V4113 = 0 &
V4094 = 0 &
V4119 = 0 &
V4117 = 0 &
V4118 = 0 &
V4096 = 9:67
If the victim
did not receive injuries from an attempted rape
(V4113 = 0), and
was not attacked in the form of rape (V4094 = 0), and
was not knocked unc onscious (V4119 = 0), and
did not have broken bones or teeth as a result of inci-
dent (V4117 = 0), and
did not sustain any internal injuries (V4118 = 0), and
could not answer if (s)he was or was not a victim o
sexual assault (V4096 = 9),
there is a high probability that this person will be a
victim of “Simple Assault Completed with Injury”
(V4529 = x67)
the Bayesian belief network model of the full j oint prob-
ability distribution of the 225 attributes in the NCVS
dataset. The list of 176 rules generated by the PART al-
gorithm was manually processed by domain experts,
Gabrielle Davis [28] and Michael Riesen [27], to identify
those that are interesting and significant for query forma-
tion to serve as the validation set through the domain
specialist’s somewhat subjective perspective. The list of
49 rules identified accord ingly to be leveraged as queries
to the BBN model of the NCVS dataset are listed in [27].
Conversion of PART rules to queries and posing re-
sulting queries to the JavaBayes realization of the BBN
model is a straightforward process and will be illustrated
next. The middle column in Table 4 displays (in Java-
Bayes format) the posterior probability for the victimiza-
tion attribute V4529 with no prior evidence observed
before any query is posed as provided by the BBN model.
One of the simple rules generated by the PART that will
be used as an example query is shown in Table 4. The
premise part of the rule, i.e., V4127 = 2 AND V4095 = 1,
is considered as prior evidence and supplied to the BBN
model as such. Next, the JavaBayes is asked to perform
“reasoning” or “inference” using the supplied prior evi-
dence through the BBN model of the NCVS data. Once
the inferencing calculations are complete, the updated
posterior probabilities for all discrete values of the vic-
timization attribute are as shown in the rightmost column
in Table 4. As an example, the probability value for the
x60 value of the victimization attribute is now 0.612, a
marked increase compared to the no-evidence case. Tran-
slating the NCVS notation of the above comparison, this
rule indicates that when a victim is attacked in such a
way that the victim perceived the incident as an at-
tempted rape (V4095 = 1) and th e victim was not injured
to the extent that the victim received any medical care,
including self treatment (V4127 = 2), there is a 61%
chance that this victim would be a victim of a completed
rape or attempted rape (V4529 = x60).
Next, another and relatively more complex rule gener-
ated by the PART algorithm as shown in Table 5 was
presented as a query to the BBN model on JavaBayes. In
Table 6, the process of supplying the evidence as pro-
vided from this PART rule is shown. First, the prior evi-
dence that the victim suffered no injuries that are related
to attempted rape (V4113 = 0) is supplied. Then, further
prior evidence is supplied through V4052 = 0, meaning
that the offender d id not use a rifle, shotgun or any other
gun different from a handgun. More prior evidence is
added in the form of V4050 = 3, indicating that there was
a weapon used, but the specific type is not applicable as
reported in the NCVS. In the final step, V4241 = 1 as
prior evidence is provided. However, with this addition
of V4241 = 1 the JavaBayes running in the Java Runtime
Environment generated an OutOfMemory exception, al-
though the heap size was set to 3.5 GB. Nevertheless, for
each of the reportable cases, the corresponding posterior
probability table for the NCVS Victimization attribute
V4529 is displayed. As shown in Table 6, inclusion of
each further evidence has a direct affect on the posterior
probability of the consequent (i.e., the so-called “Then”
part of a rule), which can be observed through the value
of x65 discrete label for the class attribute V4529.
Table 4. A PART rule (V4127 = 2 & V4095 = 1: 60), associ-
ated JavaBayes query, and updated posterior probability
values for V4529 with increasing evidence
Probabilities of
V4529 Labels
Probabilities for
V4529 with No
Probabilities with
Evidence due to
V4127 = 2 &
V4095 = 1
p(x60|evidence) 0.004 0.612
p(x61|evidence) 0.001 0.005
p(x62|evidence) 0.005 0.006
p(x63|evidence) 0.005 0.009
p(x64|evidence) 0.025 0.003
p(x65|evidence) 0.036 0.003
p(x66|evidence) 0.006 0.069
p(x67|evidence) 0.022 0.008
p(x68|evidence) 0.055 0.003
p(x69|evidence) 0.000 0.007
p(x70|evidence) 0.019 0.227
p(x71|evidence) 0.018 0.010
p(x72|evidence) 0.113 0.007
p(x73|evidence) 0.032 0.009
p(x74|evidence) 0.053 0.008
p(x75|evidence) 0.598 0.008
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network
Table 5. PART rule and associated JavaBayes query
PART Rule Corresponding JavaBayes Query Syntax
V4113 = 0 AND
V4052 = 0 AND
V4050 = 3 AND
V4241 = 1:65
Posterior distribution:
probability (“V4529”|V4113 = 0, V4052
= 0, V4050 = 3, V4241 = 1 )
Table 6. Posterior probabilities for the Victimization attri-
bute V4529 with progressively increasing prior evidence
(fraction truncated beyond third signific ant digit)
Posterior Distributions
V4529 Values probability
V4113 = 0)
V4113 = 0,
V4052 = 0)
V4113 = 0,
V4052 = 0,
V4050 = 3)
p(x60|evidence) 0.032 0.023 0.028
p(x61|evidence) 0.004 0.005 0.003
p(x62|evidence) 0.064 0.195 0.210
p(x63|evidence) 0.066 0.003 0.002
p(x64|evidence) 0.083 0.073 0.086
p(x65|evidence) 0.206 0.624 0.630
p(x66|evidence) 0.010 0.024 0.010
p(x67|evidence) 0.259 0.003 0.002
p(x68|evidence) 0.245 0.001 0.001
p(x69|evidence) 0.000 0.000 0.000
p(x70|evidence) 0.020 0.037 0.021
p(x71|evidence) 0.000 0.001 0.000
p(x72|evidence) 0.000 0.000 0.000
p(x73|evidence) 0.000 0.000 0.000
p(x74|evidence) 0.000 0.000 0.000
p(x75|evidence) 0.001 0.000 0.000
3.3 Validation of NCVS BBN Model through
PART-Induced Queries
Each of 49 rules that were identified as “interesting” and
“significant” by the domain experts was carefully con-
sidered as a test query. In light of the memory limitation
encountered earlier, original rules had to be altered in
order for the system to be able compute the posterior
probabilities within th e memory constrain ts of the system
available. Accordingly, some of the rules were elimi-
nated due to memory limitati ons: a total of 22 rules were
selected, revised and included in the query list. Table 7
shows a revised version of the rules supplied by the
PART algorithm, which were computable and hence was
applied as queries to the BBN model of the NCVS data.
The attributes or evidence variables in each rule was ran-
ked by domain experts [28-29], in order of interest (i.e.
importance to study of the domain). The domain experts
were able to classify two general groups of “interesting”
and “significant” rules: 1) rules listi ng IF premi ses that pro-
duced an unexpected result; and 2) rules that were in di-
rect alignment with the accepted standards in the domain.
Some attributes that are originally appearing in a spe-
cific rule and were ranked low by the experts were ex-
cluded from the corresponding query due to memory
constraints. As a result of exclusion of certain attrib-
utes-value pairs from many of the 22 rules used as query,
it is expected that the cons equent attribute value is likely
to be affected and possibly change from the value as in-
dicated by the original rule induced by the PART rule
discovery algorithm. Each revised rule in Table 7 is in-
dicated with an (R) next to the number of the rule.
The posterior probabilities of each rule in Table 7 upon
being posed as a query and as computed by the Java-
Bayes are displayed in Table 8, where only significant
probability values are denoted for the sake of presenta-
tion clarity. Table 9 represents the rules recovered from
computed probabilities in Table 8 to comparatively de-
monstrate the differences between the revised rules in
Table 7 and those computed by the BBN model of the
NCVS data in Table 9. In formulating rules in Table 9,
any consequent attribute value that has a comparatively
significant probability value was included. Due to revi-
sion of the original rules induced from the NCVS data,
there are differences between the consequents of rules in
Tables 7 and 9.
Although there are discrepancies between the conse-
quents of the rules in Table s 7 and 9, knowledge exposed
by the PART rules is still present to a large degree. The
“x75” represents the crime of attempted or completed
theft and is a dominant value for the victimization attrib -
ute. With no evidence being presented, “x75” will repre-
sent nearly 60% of all crimes reported in the NCVS. In-
terestingly, the PART rules have extr acted a second la yer
of usable information. The revised rules are not necessar-
ily “incorrect” but are showing how a particular set of
values can drastically affect the outcome of the victimi-
zation attribute. For example, rule 10 in unrevised form
provides that the victimization attribute should have a
large value for “x71”. As noted in Tables 8 and 9, “x71”
is not the dominant value for the revised rule 10. How-
ever, the change in posterior probability for the variable
“x71” from 1.8% to 18% is nevertheless noteworthy.
Where the rules generated by the PART algorithm are
queried exactly as they appear, the consequents of the
rule hold true as the dominant variable. Since certain
queries fail due to memory error, rules had to be revised
to demonstrate at least a portion of the knowledge ex-
tracted by the original PART-induced rules.
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network 163
Table 7. Revised query list based on PART rules
No If Then
V4529 = Rule
No If Then
V4529 =
1 (R)
V4065 = 1 &
V4026 = 9 &
V3018 = 1 &
V3024 = 2
75 12 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 & 71
2 (R)
V4052 = 0 &
V4083 = 9 &
V4094 = 0 &
V4095 = 0 &
V4024 = 7
65 13 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4307 = 0 &
V4024 = 8
3 (R)
V4052 = 0 &
V4112 = 0 &
V4113 = 0 &
V4095 = 0 &
V4094 = 0 &
V4024 = 1
65 14
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4285 = 9 &
V4307 = 0 &
V4024 = 7 &
MSACC = 35
4 (R)
V4052 = 0 &
V4094 = 0 &
V4095 = 0 &
V4111 = 0 &
V4024 = 2
65 15 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 3 71
5 (R) V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 5 71 16 (R)
V3024 = 2 &
V3020 = 23 &
V2045 = 1 71
6 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
V3018 = 2 &
MSACC = 17
71 23
V4073 = 0 &
V4029 = 9 &
V3018 = 2 &
V4152 = 9 &
V2045 = 2 &
V3019 = 2
7 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
V3018 = 2 &
MSACC = 26
71 45 (R)
V4065 = 1 &
V4029 = 9 &
V3018 = 2 &
8 (R) V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 2 71 46 (R) V3020 = 8 71
9 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
71 47 (R)
V3020 = 24 &
V3014 = 3 75
10 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
V3015 = 5
71 48 (R)
V4113 = 0 &
V4052 = 0 &
V4050 = 3 &
11 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4128 = 1 &
V4094 = 0 &
V4095 = 0 &
V4052 = 0 &
V4051 = 0 &
V4289 = 2 &
65 35
V4322 = 9 &
V4052 = 0 &
V4081 = 9 &
V4095 = 0 &
V4094 = 0 &
V4096 = 9 &
V4036 = 9 &
V4024 = 5
The query results for revised PART rules were re-
viewed by two domain experts [28,29]. In the majority of
the cases, both experts found the predicted posterior
probabilities to be reasonable and in accord with the cur-
rent statistical trends provided by conventional means.
As an example, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
provides periodic statistical reports [9]. BJS reported that,
based upon violent crimes statistics from 1973-2005,
beginning with the 25-34 age category, the rate at which
persons were victims of violent crimes declined signifi-
cantly as the age category increased [30]. The BJS also
reports that in general, males experienced higher vic-
timization rates than females for all types of violent crime
except rape/sexual assault [9]. Where the gen erated rules
included attributes (e.g. V3014 (Age), V3018 (Gender),
and V4024 (location of incident)) that were consistent
with known and generally accepted trends, the experts
were not surprised with the values predicted and agreed
that the posterior probabilities based upon each set of the
evidence attributes were not in the extremes, based upon
current publications in the field. The values were not un-
expectedly high and thus did not trigger a shocking re-
sponse. Conversely, the posterior values were not inor-
dinately low compared to expected results, and thus the
validity of the predicted value was not drawn into ques-
Rules 11, 35 and 48 were highlig hted by th e experts as
the strongest rules, having the most sensible values for
posterior prediction as compared to the generally ac-
cepted statistical values presented in currently available
publications and studies. In particular, the experts easily
identified a known relationship or correlation between
the IF premise and consequent for each of the rules 11,
35, and 48. In each of these three strongest rules, experts
found the prior evidence values clearly set the stage for
the associated posterior victimization predictions. Over-
all, both experts indicated that the responses computed
by the BBN model of the NCVS data to all queries posed
were expected and reasonable in generality, suggesting
that the model is realistic, and accordingly is a good ap-
proximation to the joint probability distribution.
As an exception to the generally positive feedback,
rule 10 was found to be somewhat extraordinary. Rule 10
included the attribute that the victim was never married
(V3015 = 5). A value of 5 for V3015 shows a distinct
increase for the probability of a purse snatching or pick-
pocketing. Domain experts were surprised to find that
this evidence value would have such an impact on the
posterior probability of pick pocketing. Although the
posterior prediction was not necessarily discounted, ex-
perts were skeptical, outside a more thorough explana-
tion of the increased victimization. However, the skepti-
cism did not detract from the intriguing prospect that the
generated rule might have exposed “new” knowledge.
As the experts reviewed the list of rules, the inclusion of
certain “unusual” or unexpected attributes similar to the
attribute uncovered by rule 10 stimulated the most feed-
back from the domain experts. The experts were inter-
ested in further investigation of th e “new” and “unusual”
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JILSA
Table 8. Query results as probability values for revised PART rules in Table 7 (only highest probability values are shown and
fractions are truncated bey ond the second significant digit)
No x61 x62 x64 x65 x66 x67 x68 x69 x70 x71 x72 x73 x74 x75
1 0.04 0.20 0.03 0.68
2 0.26 .09
0.61 0.01
3 0.22 .06
4 0.23
5 0.05 0.13 0.06 0.02
0.36 0.32
6 0.04 0.09
0.28 0.12
7 0.03 0.01 0.08
0.36 0.09
8 0.02 0.14 0.02 0.01
0.30 0.46
9 0.04 0.15
0.21 0.12
10 0.07 0.17 0.18 0.01 0.07
0.98 0.01
12 0.05 0.15 0.19 0.09
13 0.01 0.12 0.07
14 0.01 0.03
0.35 0.08
15 0.01 0.07 0.16 0.04 0.02 0.14
16 0.02
0.03 0.11 0.03 0.05
23 0.01
0.20 0.11 0.02
35 0.09 0.06
0.78 0.03
45 0.02 0.20 0.10 0.03
46 0.03
0.04 0.03 0.07 0.08 0.04
47 0.05 0.10 0.03 0.05
48 0.21 0.08
0.63 0.02
combination of attribute-value pairs presented in gener-
ated rules, stating that the rules could provide a starting
point for further research of factors that may not have
been fully developed with conventional methods.
The implications of using a rule generating algorithm
such as the PART to essentially generate queries are po-
tentially profound. Limitations associated with user bias
and limited domain knowledge may impede the self-gene-
ration of useful and interesting queries. Using PART as
an automatic query generation tool could potentially un-
cover a not-so-obvious relationship between prior evi-
dence and the resulting posterior probability of another
attribute. Applying this principle to the NCVS data, the
practical significance means uncovering the specific at-
tributes of a victim or circumstance that makes them
more or less probable to be a victim of a specific crime.
As an example of practical implementation within the
context of criminal justice, by identifying these relation-
ships that have the greatest impact on posterior probabil-
ity, resources can be channeled into areas that would be
most effective in combating violent crime.
Domain experts indicated that automatic query genera-
tion using the PART algorithm or an equivalent would be
helpful in not only discovering any hidden or novel rela-
tionships between attributes, but more practically as a
method to reinforce trends and relationships already re-
lied upon in the field. A second group of domain experts1
were independently interviewed and asked to provide a
list of self-generated queries that would be of personal
interest. None of the second group was able to provide a
list of more than three potential queries. The second
group was then presented with the automatically gener-
ated queries. All experts in the second group found that
1Six Professors at the University of Toledo College of Law
Knowledge Discovery for Query Formulation for Validation of A Bayesian Belief Network 165
Table 9. Rules reconstructed from probability values in
Table 8 (only modified rules are shown)
No If Then
V4529 = Rule
No If Then
V4529 =
5 (R) V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 5
74 &
75 14
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4285 = 9 &
V4307 = 0 &
V4024 = 7 &
MSACC = 35
71 &
6 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
V3018 = 2 &
MSACC = 17
71 &
75 15 (R) V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 3
704 &
74 &
7 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
V3018 = 2 &
MSACC = 26
71 &
75 16 (R) V3024 = 2 &
V3020 = 23 &
V2045 = 1
72 &
8 (R) V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 2
74 &
75 23
V4073 = 0 &
V4029 = 9 &
V3018 = 2 &
V4152 = 9 &
V2045 = 2 &
V3019 = 2
7 1 &
9 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
71 &
75 35
V4322 = 9 &
V4052 = 0 &
V4081 = 9 &
V4095 = 0 &
V4094 = 0 &
V4096 = 9 &
V4036 = 9 &
V4024 = 5
62 &
10 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
V3015 = 5
70 &
71 &
75 45 (R) V4065 = 1 &
V4029 = 9 &
V3018 = 2 &
71 &
12 (R) V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4024 = 7 &
70 &
71 &
75 46 (R) V3020 = 8 75
13 (R)
V4322 = 9 &
V4065 = 1 &
V4307 = 0 &
V4024 = 8
71 &
the collection of automatically generated queries was re-
latively easy to review compared to the alternative of
postulating the-defined list of rules and queries.
Each of the experts in the second group agreed that it
is sometimes difficult to consider the impact of a par-
ticular variable, especially if the particular variable is not
one that has been extensively researched using other
known techniques. In this way, the automatic rule gen-
eration may also be used as a reliable method to test prior
hypotheses. Each member of the second group also agreed
that an automatically generated list of rules provided a
catalyst to the generation of user-defined rules and que-
ries. At a minimum the relationships of the attributes
presented in the generated rules caused members in the
second group to reflect upon their own conception of
trends in victimization, which ultimately resulted in a
wholesale request for more information on the resultant
effect of certain unexpected attributes on the posterior
probability of victimization.
4. Conclusions
This paper presented an approach to address the acquisi-
tion bottleneck problem in generating human expert-for-
mulated queries for validation of a Bayesian belief net-
work model. A machine learning based approach for rule
discovery from a dataset to serve as potential q ueries was
proposed. The proposed technique employs machine
learning (and potentially data mining) algorithms to gen-
erate a set of classification or association rules that can
be converted into corresponding queries with minimal
human intervention and processing in the form of filter-
ing for interestingness and significance by domain ex-
perts. The application and utility of proposed methodol-
ogy for semi-automated query formulation based on rule
discovery was demonstrated on validation of a Bayesian
belief network model of a real life size dataset from the
domain of criminal justice.
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