Possibility theory and statistical reasoning. (English) Zbl 1157.62309

Summary: Numerical possibility distributions can encode special convex families of probability measures. The connection between possibility theory and probability theory is potentially fruitful in the scope of statistical reasoning when uncertainty due to variability of observations should be distinguished from uncertainty due to incomplete information. This paper proposes an overview of numerical possibility theory. Its aim is to show that some notions in statistics are naturally interpreted in the language of this theory. First, probabilistic inequalites (like Chebychev’s) offer a natural setting for devising possibility distributions from poor probabilistic information. Moreover, likelihood functions obey the laws of possibility theory when no prior probability is available. Possibility distributions also generalize the notion of confidence or prediction intervals, shedding some light on the role of the mode of asymmetric probability densities in the derivation of maximally informative interval substitutes of probabilistic information. Finally, the simulation of fuzzy sets comes down to selecting a probabilistic representation of a possibility distribution, which coincides with the Shapley value of the corresponding consonant capacity. This selection process is in agreement with Laplace indifference principle and is closely connected with the mean interval of a fuzzy interval. It sheds light on the “defuzzification” process in fuzzy set theory and provides a natural definition of a subjective possibility distribution that sticks to the Bayesian framework of exchangeable bets. Potential applications to risk assessment are pointed out.


62A01 Foundations and philosophical topics in statistics
68T37 Reasoning under uncertainty in the context of artificial intelligence
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