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A characterization of Markov equivalence classes for acyclic digraphs
, 1995
"... Undirected graphs and acyclic digraphs (ADGs), as well as their mutual extension to chain graphs, are widely used to describe dependencies among variables in multivariate distributions. In particular, the likelihood functions of ADG models admit convenient recursive factorizations that often allow e ..."
Abstract

Cited by 123 (7 self)
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Undirected graphs and acyclic digraphs (ADGs), as well as their mutual extension to chain graphs, are widely used to describe dependencies among variables in multivariate distributions. In particular, the likelihood functions of ADG models admit convenient recursive factorizations that often allow explicit maximum likelihood estimates and that are well suited to building Bayesian networks for expert systems. Whereas the undirected graph associated with a dependence model is uniquely determined, there may, however, be many ADGs that determine the same dependence ( = Markov) model. Thus, the family of all ADGs with a given set of vertices is naturally partitioned into Markovequivalence classes, each class being associated with a unique statistical model. Statistical procedures, such as model selection or model averaging, that fail to take into account these equivalence classes, may incur substantial computational or other inefficiencies. Here it is shown that each Markovequivalence class is uniquely determined by a single chain graph, the essential graph, that is itself simultaneously Markov equivalent to all ADGs in the equivalence class. Essential graphs are characterized, a polynomialtime algorithm for their construction is given, and their applications to model selection and other statistical