Differential Diagnosis with Active Testing



Published Sep 4, 2023
Emile van Gerwen Leonardo Barbini Michael Borth


The diagnosis of complex systems benefits greatly from a differential, multistep approach that narrows down the list of possible conditions or failures that share the same observable effects to a single root cause. We provide a suitable and practically applicable methodology for this. In extension to existing work, it covers all types of diagnostic actions, i.e., the observation of system properties, active testing and system interventions like providing a dedicated diagnostic input or forcing the system into discriminating states, but also the replacement of components. Combining all these possible steps into one probabilistic and causal reasoning framework, we I) stepwise generate the diagnostic model systematically to correctly cover the interplay of observations and diagnostic interventions, and II) provide decision support based on counterfactuals for the selection of the next diagnostic step, countering the vast number of possible actions that arise in machine diagnostic processes. We developed and successfully tried our methodology for diagnosing cyber-physical systems in the high-tech industry, but we found that it supports more processes, such as computing intervention actions for autonomous robots.

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systematic diagnosis, probabilistic reasoning, active testing, interventions, counterfactual reasoning

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