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Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference Hardcover – March 13, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0521773621 ISBN-10: 0521773628

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521773628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521773621
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...thought provoking and [a] valuable addition to the scientific community. The author, Judea Pearl, is not only an expert but also well known for creating novel ideas in cognitive system analysis and artificial intelligence...It is a well-composed an written book. The bibliography is exhaustive and up-to-date. I enjoyed thoroughly reading the material in the book. I would highly recommend this book to both theoretical and applied scientists."
Journal of statistical Computation and Simulation

"Without assuming much beyond elementary probability theory, Judea Pearl's book provides an attractive tour of recent work, in which he has played a central role, on causal models and causal reasoning. Due to his efforts, and that of a few others, a Renaissance in thinking and using causal concepts is taking place."
Patrick Suppes, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University

"For philosophers of science with a serious interest in casual modeling, Causality is simply mandatory reading."
Philosophical Review

"This highly original book will change the way social science researchers think about causality for years to come. Pearl has produced a new and powerful formal theory of causal analysis that will be great use to the serious empirical researcher. A must read."
Christopher Winship, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

"Judea Pearl's previous book, Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems, was arguably the most influential book in Artificial Intelligence in the past decade, setting the stage for much of the current activity in probabilistic reasoning. In this book, Pearl turns his attention to causality, boldly arguing for the primacy of a notion long ignored in statistics and misunderstood and mistrusted in other disciplines, from physics to economics. He demystifies the notion, clarifies the basic concepts in terms of graphical models, and explains the source of many misunderstandings. This book should prove invaluable to researchers in artificial intelligence, statistics, economics, epidemiology, and philosophy, and, indeed, all those interested in the fundamental notion of causality. It may well prove to be one of the most influential books of the next decade."
Joseph Halpern, Computer Science Department, Cornell University

"Judea Pearl has come to statistics and causation with enthusiasm and creativity. His work is always thought provoking and worth careful study. This book proves to be no exception. Time and again I found myself disagreeing both with his assumptions and with his conclusions, but I was also fascinated by new insights into problems I thought I already understood well. This book illustrates the rich contributions Pearl has made to statistical literature and to our collective understanding of models for causal reasoning."
Stephen Fienberg, Maurice Falk University Professor of Statistics and Social Science, Carnegie Mellon University

"This book on causal inference by a brilliant computer scientist will both delight and inform all--philosophers, psychologists, epidemiologists, computer scientists, lawyers--who appreciate the intriguing problem of causation posed by David Hume more than two and a half centuries ago."
Patricia Cheng, Department of Pyschology, University of California, Los Angeles

"This book fulfills a long-standing need for a rigorous yet accessible treatise on the mathematics of causal inference. Judea Pearl has done a masterful job of describing the most important approaches and displaying their underlying logical unity. The book deserves to be read by all statisticians and scientists who use nonexperimental data to study causation, and would serve well as a graduate or advanced undergraduate course text."
Sander Greenland, UCLA School of Public Health

"Judea Pearl has written an account of recent advances in the modeling of probability and cause, substantial parts of which are due to him and his co-workers. This is essential reading for anyone interested in causality." Brian Skyrms, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Irvine

"In conclusion, make no mistake about it: This is an important book. Even if almost all of the content has appeared previously in diverse venues, it has been brought together here for all of us to think about."
Journal of American Statistical Association, Charles R. Hadlock, Bentley College

Book Description

Causality offers the first comprehensive coverage of causal analysis in many sciences, including recent advances using graphical methods. Pearl presents a unified account of the probabilistic, manipulative, counterfactual and structural approaches to causation, and devises simple mathematical tools for analyzing the relationships between causal connections and statistical associations. The book will facilitate the incorporation of causal analysis as an integral part of the standard curriculum in statistics, business, epidemiology, social science and economics. Causality will be of interest to professionals and students in the fields of statistics, artificial intelligence, philosophy, cognitive science, and the health and social sciences.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Mikel Aickin on July 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Judea Pearl and his colleagues at UCLA (and elsewhere) have published a large number of papers and written unpublished reports over the past 15 years, in which they have developed a modern, analytical approach to causation. Many of these are in somewhat obscure publications, and so it is especially helpful to have the most important of them collected together in this volume. Pearl has edited, written new chapters and connecting prose, to weave this summary of a substantial amount of research.
Although the dust-jacket suggests that only modest mathematics is needed, and although this is technically true, it is misleading, because the whole area requires a sophistication of thought that goes well beyond the simplicity of the tools. Nonetheless, there is currently no other volume that is as easy to read as this, and summarizes so much material so compactly.
It is possible that the new vision of causal analysis developed by Spirtes, Scheines, Glymour, Pearl, Robins, Verma, Heckerman, Meek, and others, will have profound effect on how we analyze research data. If so, this book will be necessary reading for decades to come.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Chernick on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Judea Pearl is one of the leading researchers in the topic of causality. What is causality? In the exploration of statistical data we are often able to find relationships or correlations between two variables. We are often tempted to attribute the results of one variable, say A as an outcome (being high or low)that is due to the result (high or low) of the other, say B. We want to say that B is the cause of the outcome of A. Significant correlation by itself only suggests relationships. It cannot tell you whether A causes B or B causes A or neither. Causality is the study of designing experiments to allow you to determine if a relationship has a cause and effect. The subject matter is very philosophical and somewhat controversial. But a lot of research effort has gone into providing mathematical rigor to the concept. Pearl is one of those rare scientists who can contribute to such theory and explain it. But as Aickin suggests in his amazon review this is not a subject for a novice. Previous exposure to statistical methods such as correlation and regression is important to a clear understanding of this book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A great text, if for no other reason than the fact that it fills an important niche. Pearl does an excellent job of delineating causal models as both philosophical and statistical problems. I found the coverage of latent variable models particularly useful.
My only complaint is Pearl often makes assumptions without justifying them sufficiently. Usually, the assumptions made are reasonable or of negligible consequence, but at other times, the veracity of the assumptions is arguably core matter of the discussion. The net effect is a feeling of reading a brilliant, detailed exposition of what causal models imply observationally, undermined by doubts about the appropriateness of causality as a concept at all.
Overall, however, this a wonderful text that should be useful to anyone interested in causality or statistical modeling.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Peter McCluskey on September 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The scientific research community has adopted rigorous methods to eliminate the need for subjective judgments about many things, but when it comes to testing whether X causes Y, they revert to intuition and hand-waving. This book makes a strong argument that we shouldn't accept that. It demonstrates that it is possible to turn intuitions about causation into hypotheses that are unambiguous and testable.

But the style is sufficiently dense and dry we will need some additional books with more practical styles before these ideas become widely understood. The style is fairly good by the standards of books whose main goal is rigorous proof, but it's still hard work to learn a large number of new concepts that are mostly referred to by terse symbols whose meaning can't be found via a glossary or index. Pearl occasionally introduces a memorable word, such as do(x), the way a software engineer who wants readable code would, but mostly sticks to single-character symbols that seem unreasonably hard (at least for us programmers who are used to descriptive names) to remember.

If you're uncertain whether reading this book is worth the effort, I strongly recommend reading the afterword first. It ought to have been used as the introduction, and without it many readers will be left wondering why they should believe they will be rewarded for slogging through so much dry material.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By "funkylikwid" on February 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I take issue with the previous reviewer. Pearl does not assume that the modeller is able, a priori, to determine what the correct model is. Instead, Pearl asks what conclusions can be drawn if the modeller is able to substantiate only parts of the model. By systematically changing those parts, he then obtains a full picture of what modeling assumptions "must" be substantiated before causal inferences can be derived from nonexperimental data. An anslysis of assumptions is not a license to abuse them.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Choice (November 00) calls both Pearl's Causality (and Juarrero's Dynamics in Action, which Choice reviews together with Pearl), a "radically new perspective on causation and human behavior... Pearl critically reviews the major literature on causation, both in philosohy and in applied statistics in the social sciences. His formal models, nicely illustrated by practical examples, show the power of positing objectdively real causation connetions, counter to Hume's skepticism, which has dominated discussions of causality in both analytic philosophy and statistical analysis. Probabilities, Pearl argues, reflect subjective degrees of belief, whereas causal relations describe objective physical constraints. He reveals the role of substantive causes in statistical analyses in examples from medicine, economics, and policy decisions. "Both works are highly ambitious in rejecting traditional views. Although the arguments ar meticulous and represent intensive research, their criticisms of mainstream traditions are destined to arouse controversy... Juarrero and Pearl's books will greatly interest philosophers and scientists who are concerned with causality and the explanation of human behavior."
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