The tactical use of constraints and structure in diagnostic problem solving

Publication year: 2011
Source: Omega, Volume 39, Issue 6, December 2011, Pages 702-709

Jeroen, de Mast

This paper presents a prescriptive account of diagnostic problem solving, or diagnosis, in quality and process control. This paper identifies a general strategy, named branch-and-prune, whose manifestations can be found in disciplines such as medical diagnosis, troubleshooting of devices, and model-based diagnosis in artificial intelligence. The work aims to offer a clear conceptualization of this strategy, based on the notions of structures for the search space, and constraints to the cause’s nature.The idea is to treat the search space of candidate explanations as a tree structure, in which general and high-level causal directions are branched into more specific and detailed…

 Research highlights: ► This paper clarifies a class of strategies for diagnostic problem solving. ► General causal directions are branched into more specific explanations. ► Evidence eliminates all but a few branches (pruning). ► Well-known methods are shown to exploit such a branch-and-prune strategy. ► Eight generic structures are proposed for branching the search tree.