Soft Computing

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 2695–2703 | Cite as

Detecting and quantifying ambiguity: a neural network approach

  • Rui Ligeiro
  • R. Vilela MendesEmail author
Methodologies and Application


In general, it is not possible to have access to all variables that determine the behavior of a system. Once a number of measurable variables is identified, there might still exist hidden variables which influence the behavior of the system. The result is model ambiguity in the sense that, for the same (or very similar) input values, distinct outputs are obtained. In addition, the degree of ambiguity may vary across the range of input values. Therefore, to evaluate the accuracy of a model it is important to devise a method to obtain the degree of reliability for each output result. In this paper, we present such a scheme composed of two coupled neural networks, the first one computing the average predicted value and the other the reliability of the output, which is learned from the error values of the first one. As an illustration, the scheme is applied to a model for tracking slopes in a straw chamber and to a credit scoring model.


Uncertainty Ambiguity Neural networks 



This study was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INOV INESC – Instituto de Novas TecnologiasLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.CMAF - Faculdade de CiênciasUniv. LisboaLisbonPortugal

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