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Dealing with Uncertainty: A Survey of Theories and Practices

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3 Author(s)
Yiping Li ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Technol., Tsinghua Univ., Beijing, China ; Jianwen Chen ; Ling Feng

Uncertainty accompanies our life processes and covers almost all fields of scientific studies. Two general categories of uncertainty, namely, aleatory uncertainty and epistemic uncertainty, exist in the world. While aleatory uncertainty refers to the inherent randomness in nature, derived from natural variability of the physical world (e.g., random show of a flipped coin), epistemic uncertainty origins from human's lack of knowledge of the physical world, as well as ability of measuring and modeling the physical world (e.g., computation of the distance between two cities). Different kinds of uncertainty call for different handling methods. Aggarwal, Yu, Sarma, and Zhang et al. have made good surveys on uncertain database management based on the probability theory. This paper reviews multidisciplinary uncertainty processing activities in diverse fields. Beyond the dominant probability theory and fuzzy theory, we also review information-gap theory and recently derived uncertainty theory. Practices of these uncertainty handling theories in the domains of economics, engineering, ecology, and information sciences are also described. It is our hope that this study could provide insights to the database community on how uncertainty is managed in other disciplines, and further challenge and inspire database researchers to develop more advanced data management techniques and tools to cope with a variety of uncertainty issues in the real world.

Published in:

Knowledge and Data Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 11 )

Date of Publication:

Nov. 2013

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