In statistics and machine learning, the Markov blanket for a node in a graphical model contains all the variables that shield the node from the rest of the network. This means that the Markov blanket of a node is the only knowledge needed to predict the behavior of that node and its children. The term was coined by Judea Pearl in 1988.
In a Bayesian network, the values of the parents and children of a node evidently give information about that node. However, its children's parents also have to be included, because they can be used to explain away the node in question. In a Markov random field, the Markov blanket for a node is simply its adjacent (or neighboring) nodes.
Every set of nodes in the network is conditionally independent of when conditioned on the set , that is, when conditioned on the Markov blanket of the node : in other words, given the nodes in , A is conditionally independent of the other nodes in the graph. Formally, this property can be written, for distinct nodes and , as follows
- Pearl, Judea (1988). Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems: Networks of Plausible Inference. Representation and Reasoning Series. San Mateo CA: Morgan Kaufmann. ISBN 0-934613-73-7.