To scale non-parametric extensions of probabilistic topic models such as Latent Dirichlet allocation to larger data sets, practitioners rely increasingly on parallel and distributed systems. In this work, we study data-parallel training for the hierarchical Dirichlet process (HDP) topic model. Based upon a representation of certain conditional distributions within an HDP, we propose a doubly sparse data-parallel sampler for the HDP topic model. This sampler utilizes all available sources of sparsity found in natural language - an important way to make computation efficient. We benchmark our method on a well-known corpus (PubMed) with 8m documents and 768m tokens, using a single multi-core machine in under four days.
Word embeddings have demonstrated strong performance on NLP tasks. However, lack of interpretability and the unsupervised nature of word embeddings have limited their use within computational social science and digital humanities. We propose the use of informative priors to create interpretable and domain-informed dimensions for probabilistic word embeddings. Experimental results show that sensible priors can capture latent semantic concepts better than or on-par with the current state of the art, while retaining the simplicity and generalizability of using priors.
It is often assumed that topic models benefit from the use of a manually curated stopword list. Constructing this list is time-consuming and often subject to user judgments about what kinds of words are important to the model and the application. Although stopword removal clearly affects which word types appear as most probable terms in topics, we argue that this improvement is superficial, and that topic inference benefits little from the practice of removing stopwords beyond very frequent terms. Removing corpus-specific stopwords after model inference is more transparent and produces similar results to removing those words prior to inference.