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sum-product algorithm; distributive law; acyclic set system; junction tree
The sum-product algorithm is a well-known procedure for marginalizing an “acyclic” product function whose range is the ground set of a commutative semiring. The algorithm is general enough to include as special cases several classical algorithms developed in information theory and probability theory. We present four results. First, using the sum-product algorithm we show that the variable sets involved in an acyclic factorization satisfy a relation that is a natural generalization of probability-theoretic independence. Second, we show that for the Boolean semiring the sum-product algorithm reduces to a classical algorithm of database theory. Third, we present some methods to reduce the amount of computation required by the sum-product algorithm. Fourth, we show that with a slight modification the sum-product algorithm can be used to evaluate a general sum-product expression.
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