A common trap when it comes to sampling from a population that intrinsically includes outliers

I will discuss a common fallacy concerning the conclusions drawn from calculating a sample mean and a sample standard deviation and more importantly how to avoid it.

Suppose you draw a random sample x_1, x_2, … x_N of size N and compute the ordinary (arithmetic) sample mean  x_m and a sample standard deviation sd from it.  Now if (and only if) the (true) population mean µ (first moment) and population variance (second moment) obtained from the actual underlying PDF  are finite, the numbers x_m and sd make the usual sense otherwise they are misleading as will be shown by an example.

By the way: The common correlation coefficient will also be undefined (or in practice always point to zero) in the presence of infinite population variances. Hopefully I will create an article discussing this related fallacy in the near future where a suitable generalization to Lévy-stable variables will be proposed.

 Drawing a random sample from a heavy tailed distribution and discussing certain measures

As an example suppose you have a one dimensional random walker whose step length is distributed by a symmetric standard Cauchy distribution (Lorentz-profile) with heavy tails, i.e. an alpha-stable distribution with alpha being equal to one. The PDF of an individual independent step is given by p(x) = \frac{\pi^{-1}}{(1 + x^2)} , thus neither the first nor the second moment exist whereby the first exists and vanishes at least in the sense of a principal value due to symmetry.

Still let us generate N = 3000 (pseudo) standard Cauchy random numbers in R* to analyze the behavior of their sample mean and standard deviation sd as a function of the reduced sample size n \leq N.

*The R-code is shown at the end of the article.

Here are the piecewise sample mean (in blue) and standard deviation (in red) for the mentioned Cauchy sampling. We see that both the sample mean and sd include jumps and do not converge.

Especially the mean deviates relatively largely from zero even after 3000 observations. The sample sd has no target due to the population variance being infinite.

If the data is new and no prior distribution is known, computing the sample mean and sd will be misleading. Astonishingly enough the sample mean itself will have the (formally exact) same distribution as the single step length p(x). This means that the sample mean is also standard Cauchy distributed implying that with a different Cauchy sample one could have easily observed different sample means far of the presented values in blue.

What sense does it make to present the usual interval x_m \pm sd / \sqrt{N} in such a case? What to do?

The sample median, median absolute difference (mad) and Inter-Quantile-Range (IQR) are more appropriate to describe such a data set including outliers intrinsically. To make this plausible I present the following plot, whereby the median is shown in black, the mad in green and the IQR in orange.

This example shows that the median, mad and IQR converge quickly against their assumed values and contain no major jumps. These quantities do an obviously better job in describing the sample. Even in the presence of outliers they remain robust, whereby the mad converges more quickly than the IQR. Note that a standard Cauchy sample will contain half of its sample in the interval median \pm mad meaning that the IQR is twice the mad.

Drawing a random sample from a PDF that has finite moments

Just for comparison I also show the above quantities for a standard normal (pseudo) sample labeled with the same color as before as a counter example. In this case not only do both the sample mean and median but also the sd and mad converge towards their expected values (see plot below). Here all the quantities describe the data set properly and there is no trap since there are no intrinsic outliers. The sample mean itself follows a standard normal, so that the sd in deed makes sense and one could calculate a standard error \frac{sd}{\sqrt{N}} from it to present the usual stochastic confidence intervals for the sample mean.

A careful observation shows that in contrast to the Cauchy case here the sampled mean and sd converge more quickly than the sample median and the IQR. However still the sampled mad performs about as well as the sd. Again the mad is twice the IQR.

And here are the graphs of the prementioned quantities for a pseudo normal sample:

The take-home-message:

Just be careful when you observe outliers and calculate sample quantities right away, you might miss something. At best one carefully observes how the relevant quantities change with sample size as demonstrated in this article.

Such curves should become of broader interest in order to improve transparency in the Data Science process and reduce fallacies as well.

Thank you for reading.

P.S.: Feel free to play with the set random seed in the R-code below and observe how other quantities behave with rising sample size. Of course you can also try different PDFs at the beginning of the code. You can employ a Cauchy, Gaussian, uniform, exponential or Holtsmark (pseudo) random sample.


QUIZ: Which one of the recently mentioned random samples contains a trap** and why?

**in the context of this article


R-code used to generate the data and for producing plots:



Cross-industry standard process for data mining

Introduced in 1996, the cross-industry standard process for data mining (CRISP-DM) became the most
common procedure for all data mining projects. This method consists of six phases: Business
understanding, Data understanding, Data preparation, Modeling, Evaluation and Deployment (see
Figure 1). It is being used not just as a reference manual but as a user guide as it explains every phase
in detail (Hipp, 2000). The six phases of this model are explained below:

Figure 1: Different phases of CRISP-DM

Business Understanding

It includes understanding the business problem and determining the
objective of the business as well as of the project. It is also important to understand the previous work
done on the project (if any) to achieve the business goals and to examine if the scope of the project has changed.

The job of a Data Scientist is not limited to coding or just make a machine learning model and I guess that’s why this whole lifecycle was developed.  The key points a project owner should take care in this process are:

– Identify stakeholders  and involve them to define the scope your project
– Describe your product (your machine learning model)
– Identify how your product ties into the client’s business processes
– Identify metrics / KPIs for measuring success

Evaluating a model is a different thing as it can only tell you how good are your predictions but identifying the success metric is really important for any data science project because when your model is deployed in production this measure will tell you if your model actually works or not. Now, let’s discuss what is this success metric
Consider that you are working in an e-commerce company where Head of finance ask you to create a machine learning model to predict if a specific product will return or not. The problem is not hard to understand, its a binary classification problem and you know you can do the job. But before you start working with the data you should define a metric to measure the success. What do you think your success metric could be? I would go with the return rate, in other words, calculate the rate for how many orders are actually coming back and if this measure is getting decrease you would know your model works and if not then FIX IT !!

Data understanding

The initial step in this phase is to gather all the data from different sources. It is
then important to describe the data, generate graphs for distribution in order to get familiar with the
data. This phase is important as without enough data or without understanding about the data analysis
cannot be performed. In data mining terms this can be compared to Exploratory data analysis (EDA)
where techniques from descriptive statistics are used to have an insight into the data. For instance, if it is
a time series data it makes sense to know from when until when the data is available before diving deep into
the data.

Data preparation

This phase takes most of the time in data mining project as a lot of methods from
data cleaning, feature subset, feature engineering, the transformation of data etc. are used before the final
dataset is trained for modeling purpose. The single dataset can also be prepared in different forms as some
algorithms can learn more with a certain type of data, some algorithms can deal with imbalance dataset
and for some algorithms, the target variable must be balanced. This phase also requires sometimes to
calculate new KPI’s according to the business need or sometimes to reduce the dimension of the dataset.

Modeling and Evaluation

Various models are selected and build in this process and appropriate hyperparameters are
selected after an intensive grid search.  Once all the models are built it is now time to evaluate and compare performances of all the models.


A model is of no use if it is not deployed into production. Until now you have been doing the job of a data scientist but for deployment, you need some software engineering

skills. There are several ways to deploy a machine learning model or python code. Few of them are:

  • Re-implement your python code in C++, Java etc. (LOL)
  • Save the coefficients and use them to get predictions
  • Serialized objects (REST API with flask, Django)

To understand the concept of deploying an ML model using REST API this post is highly recommended.

Predictive maintenance in Semiconductor Industry: Part 1

The process in the semiconductor industry is highly complicated and is normally under consistent observation via the monitoring of the signals coming from several sensors. Thus, it is important for the organization to detect the fault in the sensor as quickly as possible. There are existing traditional statistical based techniques however modern semiconductor industries have the ability to produce more data which is beyond the capability of the traditional process.

For this article, we will be using SECOM dataset which is available here.  A lot of work has already done on this dataset by different authors and there are also some articles available online. In this article, we will focus on problem definition, data understanding, and data cleaning.

This article is only the first of three parts, in this article we will discuss the business problem in hand and clean the dataset. In second part we will do feature engineering and in the last article we will build some models and evaluate them.

Problem definition

This data which is collected by these sensors not only contains relevant information but also a lot of noise. The dataset contains readings from 590. Among the 1567 examples, there are only 104 fail cases which means that out target variable is imbalanced. We will look at the distribution of the dataset when we look at the python code.

NOTE: For a detailed description regarding this cases study I highly recommend to read the following research papers:

  •  Kerdprasop, K., & Kerdprasop, N. A Data Mining Approach to Automate Fault Detection Model Development in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Process.
  • Munirathinam, S., & Ramadoss, B. Predictive Models for Equipment Fault Detection in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Process.

Data Understanding and Preparation

Let’s start exploring the dataset now. The first step as always is to import the required libraries.

There are several ways to import the dataset, you can always download and then import from your working directory. However, I will directly import using the link. There are two datasets: one contains the readings from the sensors and the other one contains our target variable and a timestamp.

The first step before doing the analysis would be to merge the dataset and we will us pandas library to merge the datasets in just one line of code.

Now let’s check out the distribution of the target variable

Figure 1: Distribution of Target Variable

From Figure 1 it can be observed that the target variable is imbalanced and it is highly recommended to deal with this problem before the model building phase to avoid bias model. Xgboost is one of the models which can deal with imbalance classes but one needs to spend a lot of time to tune the hyper-parameters to achieve the best from the model.

The dataset in hand contains a lot of null values and the next step would be to analyse these null values and remove the columns having null values more than a certain percentage. This percentage is calculated based on 95th quantile of null values.

Figure 2: Missing percentge in each column

Now we calculate the 95th percentile of the null values.

Figure 3: Missing percentage after removing columns with more then 45% Na

From figure 3 its visible that there are still missing values in the dataset and can be dealt by using many imputation methods. The most common method is to impute these values by mean, median or mode. There also exist few sophisticated techniques like K-nearest neighbour and interpolation.  We will be applying interpolation technique to our dataset. 

To prepare our dataset for analysis we should remove some more unwanted columns like columns with near zero variance. For this we can calulate number of unique values in each column and if there is only one unique value we can delete the column as it holds no information.

We have applied few data cleaning techniques and reduced the features from 590 to 444. However, In the next article we will apply some feature engineering techniques and adress problems like the curse of dimensionality and will also try to balance the target variable.

Bleiben Sie dran!!

Fuzzy Matching mit dem Jaro-Winkler-Score zur Auswertung von Markenbekanntheit und Werbeerinnerung

Für Unternehmen sind Markenbekanntheit und Werbeerinnerung wichtige Zielgrößen, denn anhand dieser lässt sich ableiten, ob Konsumenten ein Produkt einer Marke kaufen werden oder nicht. Zielgrößen wie diese werden von Marktforschungsinstituten über Befragungen ermittelt. Dafür wird in regelmäßigen Zeitabständen eine gleichbleibende Anzahl an Personen befragt, ob diese sich an Marken einer bestimmten Branche erinnern oder sich an Werbung erinnern. Die Personen füllen dafür in der Regel einen Onlinefragebogen aus.

Die Ergebnisse der Befragung liegen in einer Datenmatrix (siehe Tabelle) vor und müssen zur Auswertung zunächst bearbeitet werden.

Laufende Nummer Marke 1 Marke 2 Marke 3 Marke 4
1 ING-Diba Citigroup Sparkasse
2 Sparkasse Consorsbank
3 Commerbank Deutsche Bank Sparkasse ING-DiBa
4 Sparkasse Targobank

Ziel ist es aus diesen Daten folgende 0/1 codierte Matrix zu generieren. Wenn eine Marke bekannt ist, wird in die zur Marke gehörende Spalte eine Eins eingetragen, ansonsten eine Null.

Alle Marken ING-Diba Citigroup Sparkasse Targobank
ING-Diba, Citigroup, Sparkasse 1 1 1 0
Sparkasse, Consorsbank 0 0 1 0
Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Sparkasse, ING-Diba 1 0 0 0
Sparkasse, Targobank 0 0 1 1

Der Workflow um diese Datentransformation durchzuführen ist oftmals mittels eines Teilstrings einer Marke zu suchen ob diese in einem über alle Nennungen hinweg zusammengeführten String vorkommt oder nicht (z.B. „argo“ bei Targobank). Das Problem dieser Herangehensweise ist, dass viele falsch geschriebenen Wörter so nicht erfasst werden und die Erfahrung zeigt, dass falsch geschriebene Marken in vielfältigster Weise auftreten. Hier mussten in der Vergangenheit Mitarbeiter sich in stundenlangem Kampf durch die Ergebnisse wühlen und falsch zugeordnete oder nicht zugeordnete Marken händisch korrigieren und alle Variationen der Wörter notieren, um für die nächste Befragung das Suchpattern zu optimieren.

Eine Alternative diesen aufwändigen Workflow stellt die Ermittlung von falsch geschriebenen Wörtern mittels des Jaro-Winkler-Scores dar. Dafür muss zunächst die Jaro-Winkler-Distanz zwischen zwei Strings berechnet werden. Diese berechnet sich wie folgt:

d_j = \frac{1}{3}(\frac{m}{|s_1|}+\frac{m}{|s_2|}+\frac{m - t}{m})

  • m: Anzahl der übereinstimmenden Buchstaben
  • s: Länge des Strings
  • t: Hälfte der Anzahl der Umstellungen der Buchstaben die nötig sind, damit Strings identisch sind. („Ta“ und „gobank“ befinden sich bereits in der korrekten Reihenfolge, somit gilt: t = 0)

Aus dem Ergebnis lässt sich der Jaro-Winkler Score berechnen:
d_w = \d_j + (l_p (1 - d_j))
ist dabei die Jaro-Winkler-Distanz, l die Länge der übereinstimmenden Buchstaben von Beginn des Wortes bis zum maximal vierten Buchstaben und p ein konstanter Faktor von 0,1.

Für die Strings „Targobank“ und „Tangobank“ ergibt sich die Jaro-Winkler-Distanz:

d_j = \frac{1}{3}(\frac{8}{9}+\frac{8}{9}+\frac{8 - 0}{9})

Daraus wird im nächsten Schritt der Jaro-Winkler Score berechnet:

d_w = 0,9259 + (2 \cdot 0,1 (1 - 0,9259)) = 0,9407407

Bisherige Erfahrungen haben gezeigt, dass sich Scores ab 0,8 bzw. 0,9 am besten zur Suche von ähnlichen Wörtern eignen. Ein Schwellenwert darunter findet sehr viele Wörter, die sich z.B. auch anderen Wörtern zuordnen lassen. Ein Schwellenwert über 0,9 identifiziert falsch geschriebene Wörter oftmals nicht mehr.

Nach diesem theoretischen Exkurs möchte ich nun zeigen, wie sich das Ganze praktisch anwenden lässt. Da sich das Ganze um ein fiktives Beispiel handelt, werden zur Demonstration der Praxistauglichkeit Fakedaten mit folgendem Code erzeugt. Dabei wird angenommen, dass Personen unterschiedlich viele Banken kennen und diese mit einer bestimmten Wahrscheinlichkeit falsch schreiben.


Nun werden die Inhalte der Spalten in eine einzige Spalte zusammengefasst und jede Marke per Komma getrennt.

Damit Sonderzeichen, Leerzeichen oder Groß- und Kleinschreibung keine Rolle spielen, werden alle Strings vereinheitlicht und störende Zeichen entfernt.

Im nächsten Schritt wird geprüft welche Schreibweisen überhaupt existieren. Dafür eignet sich eine Word-Frequency-Matrix, mit der alle einzigartigen Wörter und deren Häufigkeiten in einem Vektor gezählt wird.

Danach wird eine leere Liste erstellt, in der iterativ für jedes Element des Suchvektors ein Charactervektor erzeugt wird, der Wörter enthält, die einen Jaro-Winker Score von 0,9 oder höher besitzen.

Jetzt wird ein leerer DataFrame erzeugt, der die Zeilenlänge des originalen DataFrames besitzt sowie die Anzahl der Marken als Spaltenlänge.

Im nächsten Schritt wird nun aus den ähnlichen Wörtern mit einer oder-Verknüpfung einen String erzeugt, der alle durch den Jaro-Winkler-Score identifizierten Wörter beinhaltet. Wenn ein Treffer gefunden wird, wird in der Suchspalte eine Eins eingetragen, ansonsten eine Null.

Zuletzt wird eine Spalte erzeugt, in die eine Eins geschrieben wird, wenn keine der Marken gefunden wurde.

Nach der fertigen Berechnung der Matrix können nun die finalen KPI´s berechnet und als Report in eine .xlsx Datei geschrieben werden.

Dieses Vorgehen kann natürlich nicht verhindern, dass sich jemand mit kritischem Auge die Daten anschauen muss. In mehreren Tests ergaben sich bei einer Fallzahl von ~10.000 Antworten Genauigkeiten zwischen 95% und 100%, was bisherige Ansätze um ein Vielfaches übertrifft.9407407

Sentiment Analysis of IMDB reviews

Sentiment Analysis of IMDB reviews

This article shows you how to build a Neural Network from scratch(no libraries) for the purpose of detecting whether a movie review on IMDB is negative or positive.


  • Curating a dataset and developing a "Predictive Theory"

  • Transforming Text to Numbers Creating the Input/Output Data

  • Building our Neural Network

  • Making Learning Faster by Reducing "Neural Noise"

  • Reducing Noise by strategically reducing the vocabulary

Curating the Dataset

In [3]:
def pretty_print_review_and_label(i):
    print(labels[i] + "\t:\t" + reviews[i][:80] + "...")

g = open('reviews.txt','r') # features of our dataset
reviews = list(map(lambda x:x[:-1],g.readlines()))

g = open('labels.txt','r') # labels
labels = list(map(lambda x:x[:-1].upper(),g.readlines()))

Note: The data in reviews.txt we're contains only lower case characters. That's so we treat different variations of the same word, like The, the, and THE, all the same way.

It's always a good idea to get check out your dataset before you proceed.

In [2]:
len(reviews) #No. of reviews
In [3]:
reviews[0] #first review
'bromwell high is a cartoon comedy . it ran at the same time as some other programs about school life  such as  teachers  . my   years in the teaching profession lead me to believe that bromwell high  s satire is much closer to reality than is  teachers  . the scramble to survive financially  the insightful students who can see right through their pathetic teachers  pomp  the pettiness of the whole situation  all remind me of the schools i knew and their students . when i saw the episode in which a student repeatedly tried to burn down the school  i immediately recalled . . . . . . . . . at . . . . . . . . . . high . a classic line inspector i  m here to sack one of your teachers . student welcome to bromwell high . i expect that many adults of my age think that bromwell high is far fetched . what a pity that it isn  t   '
In [4]:
labels[0] #first label

Developing a Predictive Theory

Analysing how you would go about predicting whether its a positive or a negative review.

In [5]:
print("labels.txt \t : \t reviews.txt\n")
labels.txt 	 : 	 reviews.txt

NEGATIVE	:	this movie is terrible but it has some good effects .  ...
POSITIVE	:	adrian pasdar is excellent is this film . he makes a fascinating woman .  ...
NEGATIVE	:	comment this movie is impossible . is terrible  very improbable  bad interpretat...
POSITIVE	:	excellent episode movie ala pulp fiction .  days   suicides . it doesnt get more...
NEGATIVE	:	if you haven  t seen this  it  s terrible . it is pure trash . i saw this about ...
POSITIVE	:	this schiffer guy is a real genius  the movie is of excellent quality and both e...
In [41]:
from collections import Counter
import numpy as np

We'll create three Counter objects, one for words from postive reviews, one for words from negative reviews, and one for all the words.

In [56]:
# Create three Counter objects to store positive, negative and total counts
positive_counts = Counter()
negative_counts = Counter()
total_counts = Counter()

Examine all the reviews. For each word in a positive review, increase the count for that word in both your positive counter and the total words counter; likewise, for each word in a negative review, increase the count for that word in both your negative counter and the total words counter. You should use split(' ') to divide a piece of text (such as a review) into individual words.

In [57]:
# Loop over all the words in all the reviews and increment the counts in the appropriate counter objects
for i in range(len(reviews)):
    if(labels[i] == 'POSITIVE'):
        for word in reviews[i].split(" "):
            positive_counts[word] += 1
            total_counts[word] += 1
        for word in reviews[i].split(" "):
            negative_counts[word] += 1
            total_counts[word] += 1

Most common positive & negative words

In [ ]:

The above statement retrieves alot of words, the top 3 being : ('the', 173324), ('.', 159654), ('and', 89722),

In [ ]:

The above statement retrieves alot of words, the top 3 being : ('', 561462), ('.', 167538), ('the', 163389),

As you can see, common words like "the" appear very often in both positive and negative reviews. Instead of finding the most common words in positive or negative reviews, what you really want are the words found in positive reviews more often than in negative reviews, and vice versa. To accomplish this, you'll need to calculate the ratios of word usage between positive and negative reviews.

The positive-to-negative ratio for a given word can be calculated with positive_counts[word] / float(negative_counts[word]+1). Notice the +1 in the denominator – that ensures we don't divide by zero for words that are only seen in positive reviews.

In [58]:
pos_neg_ratios = Counter()

# Calculate the ratios of positive and negative uses of the most common words
# Consider words to be "common" if they've been used at least 100 times
for term,cnt in list(total_counts.most_common()):
    if(cnt > 100):
        pos_neg_ratio = positive_counts[term] / float(negative_counts[term]+1)
        pos_neg_ratios[term] = pos_neg_ratio

Examine the ratios

In [12]:
print("Pos-to-neg ratio for 'the' = {}".format(pos_neg_ratios["the"]))
print("Pos-to-neg ratio for 'amazing' = {}".format(pos_neg_ratios["amazing"]))
print("Pos-to-neg ratio for 'terrible' = {}".format(pos_neg_ratios["terrible"]))
Pos-to-neg ratio for 'the' = 1.0607993145235326
Pos-to-neg ratio for 'amazing' = 4.022813688212928
Pos-to-neg ratio for 'terrible' = 0.17744252873563218

We see the following:

  • Words that you would expect to see more often in positive reviews – like "amazing" – have a ratio greater than 1. The more skewed a word is toward postive, the farther from 1 its positive-to-negative ratio will be.
  • Words that you would expect to see more often in negative reviews – like "terrible" – have positive values that are less than 1. The more skewed a word is toward negative, the closer to zero its positive-to-negative ratio will be.
  • Neutral words, which don't really convey any sentiment because you would expect to see them in all sorts of reviews – like "the" – have values very close to 1. A perfectly neutral word – one that was used in exactly the same number of positive reviews as negative reviews – would be almost exactly 1.

Ok, the ratios tell us which words are used more often in postive or negative reviews, but the specific values we've calculated are a bit difficult to work with. A very positive word like "amazing" has a value above 4, whereas a very negative word like "terrible" has a value around 0.18. Those values aren't easy to compare for a couple of reasons:

  • Right now, 1 is considered neutral, but the absolute value of the postive-to-negative rations of very postive words is larger than the absolute value of the ratios for the very negative words. So there is no way to directly compare two numbers and see if one word conveys the same magnitude of positive sentiment as another word conveys negative sentiment. So we should center all the values around netural so the absolute value fro neutral of the postive-to-negative ratio for a word would indicate how much sentiment (positive or negative) that word conveys.
  • When comparing absolute values it's easier to do that around zero than one.

To fix these issues, we'll convert all of our ratios to new values using logarithms (i.e. use np.log(ratio))

In the end, extremely positive and extremely negative words will have positive-to-negative ratios with similar magnitudes but opposite signs.

In [59]:
# Convert ratios to logs
for word,ratio in pos_neg_ratios.most_common():
    pos_neg_ratios[word] = np.log(ratio)

Examine the new ratios

In [14]:
print("Pos-to-neg ratio for 'the' = {}".format(pos_neg_ratios["the"]))
print("Pos-to-neg ratio for 'amazing' = {}".format(pos_neg_ratios["amazing"]))
print("Pos-to-neg ratio for 'terrible' = {}".format(pos_neg_ratios["terrible"]))
Pos-to-neg ratio for 'the' = 0.05902269426102881
Pos-to-neg ratio for 'amazing' = 1.3919815802404802
Pos-to-neg ratio for 'terrible' = -1.7291085042663878

If everything worked, now you should see neutral words with values close to zero. In this case, "the" is near zero but slightly positive, so it was probably used in more positive reviews than negative reviews. But look at "amazing"'s ratio - it's above 1, showing it is clearly a word with positive sentiment. And "terrible" has a similar score, but in the opposite direction, so it's below -1. It's now clear that both of these words are associated with specific, opposing sentiments.

Run the below code to see more ratios.

It displays all the words, ordered by how associated they are with postive reviews.

In [ ]:

The top most common words for the above code : ('edie', 4.6913478822291435), ('paulie', 4.0775374439057197), ('felix', 3.1527360223636558), ('polanski', 2.8233610476132043), ('matthau', 2.8067217286092401), ('victoria', 2.6810215287142909), ('mildred', 2.6026896854443837), ('gandhi', 2.5389738710582761), ('flawless', 2.451005098112319), ('superbly', 2.2600254785752498), ('perfection', 2.1594842493533721), ('astaire', 2.1400661634962708), ('captures', 2.0386195471595809), ('voight', 2.0301704926730531), ('wonderfully', 2.0218960560332353), ('powell', 1.9783454248084671), ('brosnan', 1.9547990964725592)

Transforming Text into Numbers

Creating the Input/Output Data

Create a set named vocab that contains every word in the vocabulary.

In [19]:
vocab = set(total_counts.keys())

Check vocabulary size

In [20]:
vocab_size = len(vocab)

Th following image rpresents the layers of the neural network you'll be building throughout this notebook. layer_0 is the input layer, layer_1 is a hidden layer, and layer_2 is the output layer.

In [1]:

TODO: Create a numpy array called layer_0 and initialize it to all zeros. Create layer_0 as a 2-dimensional matrix with 1 row and vocab_size columns.

In [21]:
layer_0 = np.zeros((1,vocab_size))

layer_0 contains one entry for every word in the vocabulary, as shown in the above image. We need to make sure we know the index of each word, so run the following cell to create a lookup table that stores the index of every word.

TODO: Complete the implementation of update_input_layer. It should count how many times each word is used in the given review, and then store those counts at the appropriate indices inside layer_0.

In [ ]:
# Create a dictionary of words in the vocabulary mapped to index positions 
# (to be used in layer_0)
word2index = {}
for i,word in enumerate(vocab):
    word2index[word] = i

It stores the indexes like this: 'antony': 22, 'pinjar': 23, 'helsig': 24, 'dances': 25, 'good': 26, 'willard': 71500, 'faridany': 27, 'foment': 28, 'matts': 12313,

Lets implement some functions for simplifying our inputs to the neural network.

In [25]:
def update_input_layer(review):
    The element at a given index of layer_0 should represent
    how many times the given word occurs in the review.
    global layer_0
    # clear out previous state, reset the layer to be all 0s
    layer_0 *= 0
    # count how many times each word is used in the given review and store the results in layer_0 
    for word in review.split(" "):
        layer_0[0][word2index[word]] += 1

Run the following cell to test updating the input layer with the first review. The indices assigned may not be the same as in the solution, but hopefully you'll see some non-zero values in layer_0.

In [26]:
array([[ 18.,   0.,   0., ...,   0.,   0.,   0.]])

get_target_for_labels should return 0 or 1, depending on whether the given label is NEGATIVE or POSITIVE, respectively.

In [27]:
def get_target_for_label(label):
    if(label == 'POSITIVE'):
        return 1
        return 0

Building a Neural Network

In [32]:
import time
import sys
import numpy as np

# Encapsulate our neural network in a class
class SentimentNetwork:
    def __init__(self, reviews,labels,hidden_nodes = 10, learning_rate = 0.1):
            reviews(list) - List of reviews used for training
            labels(list) - List of POSITIVE/NEGATIVE labels
            hidden_nodes(int) - Number of nodes to create in the hidden layer
            learning_rate(float) - Learning rate to use while training
        # Assign a seed to our random number generator to ensure we get
        # reproducable results

        # process the reviews and their associated labels so that everything
        # is ready for training
        self.pre_process_data(reviews, labels)
        # Build the network to have the number of hidden nodes and the learning rate that
        # were passed into this initializer. Make the same number of input nodes as
        # there are vocabulary words and create a single output node.
        self.init_network(len(self.review_vocab),hidden_nodes, 1, learning_rate)

    def pre_process_data(self, reviews, labels):
        # populate review_vocab with all of the words in the given reviews
        review_vocab = set()
        for review in reviews:
            for word in review.split(" "):

        # Convert the vocabulary set to a list so we can access words via indices
        self.review_vocab = list(review_vocab)
        # populate label_vocab with all of the words in the given labels.
        label_vocab = set()
        for label in labels:
        # Convert the label vocabulary set to a list so we can access labels via indices
        self.label_vocab = list(label_vocab)
        # Store the sizes of the review and label vocabularies.
        self.review_vocab_size = len(self.review_vocab)
        self.label_vocab_size = len(self.label_vocab)
        # Create a dictionary of words in the vocabulary mapped to index positions
        self.word2index = {}
        for i, word in enumerate(self.review_vocab):
            self.word2index[word] = i
        # Create a dictionary of labels mapped to index positions
        self.label2index = {}
        for i, label in enumerate(self.label_vocab):
            self.label2index[label] = i
    def init_network(self, input_nodes, hidden_nodes, output_nodes, learning_rate):
        # Set number of nodes in input, hidden and output layers.
        self.input_nodes = input_nodes
        self.hidden_nodes = hidden_nodes
        self.output_nodes = output_nodes

        # Store the learning rate
        self.learning_rate = learning_rate

        # Initialize weights

        # These are the weights between the input layer and the hidden layer.
        self.weights_0_1 = np.zeros((self.input_nodes,self.hidden_nodes))
        # These are the weights between the hidden layer and the output layer.
        self.weights_1_2 = np.random.normal(0.0, self.output_nodes**-0.5, 
                                                (self.hidden_nodes, self.output_nodes))
        # The input layer, a two-dimensional matrix with shape 1 x input_nodes
        self.layer_0 = np.zeros((1,input_nodes))
    def update_input_layer(self,review):

        # clear out previous state, reset the layer to be all 0s
        self.layer_0 *= 0
        for word in review.split(" "):
            if(word in self.word2index.keys()):
                self.layer_0[0][self.word2index[word]] += 1
    def get_target_for_label(self,label):
        if(label == 'POSITIVE'):
            return 1
            return 0
    def sigmoid(self,x):
        return 1 / (1 + np.exp(-x))
    def sigmoid_output_2_derivative(self,output):
        return output * (1 - output)
    def train(self, training_reviews, training_labels):
        # make sure out we have a matching number of reviews and labels
        assert(len(training_reviews) == len(training_labels))
        # Keep track of correct predictions to display accuracy during training 
        correct_so_far = 0

        # Remember when we started for printing time statistics
        start = time.time()
        # loop through all the given reviews and run a forward and backward pass,
        # updating weights for every item
        for i in range(len(training_reviews)):
            # Get the next review and its correct label
            review = training_reviews[i]
            label = training_labels[i]
            ### Forward pass ###

            # Input Layer

            # Hidden layer
            layer_1 = self.layer_0.dot(self.weights_0_1)

            # Output layer
            layer_2 = self.sigmoid(layer_1.dot(self.weights_1_2))
            ### Backward pass ###

            # Output error
            layer_2_error = layer_2 - self.get_target_for_label(label) # Output layer error is the difference between desired target and actual output.
            layer_2_delta = layer_2_error * self.sigmoid_output_2_derivative(layer_2)

            # Backpropagated error
            layer_1_error = layer_2_delta.dot(self.weights_1_2.T) # errors propagated to the hidden layer
            layer_1_delta = layer_1_error # hidden layer gradients - no nonlinearity so it's the same as the error

            # Update the weights
            self.weights_1_2 -= layer_1.T.dot(layer_2_delta) * self.learning_rate # update hidden-to-output weights with gradient descent step
            self.weights_0_1 -= self.layer_0.T.dot(layer_1_delta) * self.learning_rate # update input-to-hidden weights with gradient descent step

            # Keep track of correct predictions.
            if(layer_2 >= 0.5 and label == 'POSITIVE'):
                correct_so_far += 1
            elif(layer_2 < 0.5 and label == 'NEGATIVE'):
                correct_so_far += 1
            sys.stdout.write(" #Correct:" + str(correct_so_far) + " #Trained:" + str(i+1) \
                             + " Training Accuracy:" + str(correct_so_far * 100 / float(i+1))[:4] + "%")
    def test(self, testing_reviews, testing_labels):
        Attempts to predict the labels for the given testing_reviews,
        and uses the test_labels to calculate the accuracy of those predictions.
        # keep track of how many correct predictions we make
        correct = 0

        # Loop through each of the given reviews and call run to predict
        # its label. 
        for i in range(len(testing_reviews)):
            pred = self.run(testing_reviews[i])
            if(pred == testing_labels[i]):
                correct += 1
            sys.stdout.write(" #Correct:" + str(correct) + " #Tested:" + str(i+1) \
                             + " Testing Accuracy:" + str(correct * 100 / float(i+1))[:4] + "%")
    def run(self, review):
        Returns a POSITIVE or NEGATIVE prediction for the given review.
        # Run a forward pass through the network, like in the "train" function.
        # Input Layer

        # Hidden layer
        layer_1 = self.layer_0.dot(self.weights_0_1)

        # Output layer
        layer_2 = self.sigmoid(layer_1.dot(self.weights_1_2))
        # Return POSITIVE for values above greater-than-or-equal-to 0.5 in the output layer;
        # return NEGATIVE for other values
        if(layer_2[0] >= 0.5):
            return "POSITIVE"
            return "NEGATIVE"

Run the following code to create the network with a small learning rate, 0.001, and then train the new network. Using learning rate larger than this, for example 0.1 or even 0.01 would result in poor performance.

In [ ]:
mlp = SentimentNetwork(reviews[:-1000],labels[:-1000], learning_rate=0.001)

Running the above code would have given an accuracy around 62.2%

Reducing Noise in Our Input Data

Counting how many times each word occured in our review might not be the most efficient way. Instead just including whether a word was there or not will improve our training time and accuracy. Hence we update our update_input_layer() function.

In [ ]:
def update_input_layer(self,review):
    self.layer_0 *= 0
    for word in review.split(" "):
        if(word in self.word2index.keys()):
            self.layer_0[0][self.word2index[word]] =1

Creating and running our neural network again, even with a higher learning rate of 0.1 gave us a training accuracy of 83.8% and testing accuracy(testing on last 1000 reviews) of 85.7%.

Reducing Noise by Strategically Reducing the Vocabulary

Let us put the pos to neg ratio's that we found were much more effective at detecting a positive or negative label. We could do that by a few change:

  • Modify pre_process_data:
    • Add two additional parameters: min_count and polarity_cutoff
    • Calculate the positive-to-negative ratios of words used in the reviews.
    • Change so words are only added to the vocabulary if they occur in the vocabulary more than min_count times.
    • Change so words are only added to the vocabulary if the absolute value of their postive-to-negative ratio is at least polarity_cutoff
In [ ]:
def pre_process_data(self, reviews, labels, polarity_cutoff, min_count):
        positive_counts = Counter()
        negative_counts = Counter()
        total_counts = Counter()

        for i in range(len(reviews)):
            if(labels[i] == 'POSITIVE'):
                for word in reviews[i].split(" "):
                    positive_counts[word] += 1
                    total_counts[word] += 1
                for word in reviews[i].split(" "):
                    negative_counts[word] += 1
                    total_counts[word] += 1

        pos_neg_ratios = Counter()

        for term,cnt in list(total_counts.most_common()):
            if(cnt >= 50):
                pos_neg_ratio = positive_counts[term] / float(negative_counts[term]+1)
                pos_neg_ratios[term] = pos_neg_ratio

        for word,ratio in pos_neg_ratios.most_common():
            if(ratio > 1):
                pos_neg_ratios[word] = np.log(ratio)
                pos_neg_ratios[word] = -np.log((1 / (ratio + 0.01)))

        # populate review_vocab with all of the words in the given reviews
        review_vocab = set()
        for review in reviews:
            for word in review.split(" "):
                if(total_counts[word] > min_count):
                    if(word in pos_neg_ratios.keys()):
                        if((pos_neg_ratios[word] >= polarity_cutoff) or (pos_neg_ratios[word] <= -polarity_cutoff)):

        # Convert the vocabulary set to a list so we can access words via indices
        self.review_vocab = list(review_vocab)
        # populate label_vocab with all of the words in the given labels.
        label_vocab = set()
        for label in labels:
        # Convert the label vocabulary set to a list so we can access labels via indices
        self.label_vocab = list(label_vocab)
        # Store the sizes of the review and label vocabularies.
        self.review_vocab_size = len(self.review_vocab)
        self.label_vocab_size = len(self.label_vocab)
        # Create a dictionary of words in the vocabulary mapped to index positions
        self.word2index = {}
        for i, word in enumerate(self.review_vocab):
            self.word2index[word] = i
        # Create a dictionary of labels mapped to index positions
        self.label2index = {}
        for i, label in enumerate(self.label_vocab):
            self.label2index[label] = i

Our training accuracy increased to 85.6% after this change. As we can see our accuracy saw a huge jump by making minor changes based on our intuition. We can keep making such changes and increase the accuracy even further.


Download the Data Sources

The data sources used in this article can be downloaded here:

The Inside Out of ML Based Prescriptive Analytics

With the constantly growing number of data, more and more companies are shifting towards analytic solutions. Analytic solutions help in extracting the meaning from the huge amount of data available. Thus, improving decision making.

Decision making is an important aspect of businesses, and technologies like Machine Learning are enhancing it further. The growing use of Machine Learning has changed the way of prescriptive analytics. In order to optimize the efforts, companies need to be more accurate with the historical and present data. This is because the historical and present data are the essentials of analytics. This article helps describe the inside out of Machine Learning-based prescriptive analytics.

Phases of business analytics

Descriptive analytics, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics are the three phases of business analytics. Descriptive analytics, being the first one, deals with past performance. Historical data is mined to understand past performance. This serves as a way to look for the reasons behind past success and failure. It is a kind of post-mortem analysis and most management reporting like sales, marketing, operations, and finance etc. make use of this.

The second one is a predictive analysis which answers the question of what is likely to happen. The historical data is now combined with rules, algorithms etc. to determine the possible future outcome or likelihood of a situation occurring.

The final phase, well known to everyone, is prescriptive analytics. It can continually take in new data and re-predict and re-prescribe. This improves the accuracy of the prediction and prescribes better decision options.  Professional services or technology or their combination can be chosen to perform all the three analytics.

More about prescriptive analytics

The analysis of business activities goes through many phases. Prescriptive analytics is one such. It is known to be the third phase of business analytics and comes after descriptive and predictive analytics. It entails the application of mathematical and computational sciences. It makes use of the results obtained from descriptive and predictive analysis to suggest decision options. It goes beyond predicting future outcomes and suggests actions to benefit from the predictions. It shows the implications of each decision option. It anticipates on what will happen when it will happen as well as why it will happen.

ML-based prescriptive analytics

Being just before the prescriptive analytics, predictive analytics is often confused with it. What actually happens is predictive analysis leads to prescriptive analysis. Thus, a Machine Learning based prescriptive analytics goes through an ML-based predictive analysis first. Therefore, it becomes necessary to consider the ML-based predictive analysis first.

ML-based predictive analytics:

A lot of things prevent businesses from achieving predictive analysis capabilities.  Machine Learning can be a great help in boosting Predictive analytics. Use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms helps businesses in optimizing and uncovering the new statistical patterns. These statistical patterns form the backbone of predictive analysis. E-commerce, marketing, customer service, medical diagnosis etc. are some of the prospective use cases for Machine Learning based predictive analytics.

In E-commerce, machine learning can help in predicting the usual choices of the customer. Thus, presenting him/her according to his/her likes and dislikes. It can also help in predicting fraudulent transaction. Similarly, B2B marketing also makes good use of Machine learning based predictive analytics. Customer services and medical diagnosis also benefit from predictive analytics. Thus, a prediction and a prescription based on machine learning can boost various business functions.

Organizations and software development companies are making more and more use of machine learning based predictive analytics. The advancements like neural networks and deep learning algorithms are able to uncover hidden information. This all requires a well-researched approach. Big data and progressive IT systems also act as important factors in this.

Language Detecting with sklearn by determining Letter Frequencies

Of course, there are better and more efficient methods to detect the language of a given text than counting its lettes. On the other hand this is a interesting little example to show the impressing ability of todays machine learning algorithms to detect hidden patterns in a given set of data.

For example take the sentence:

“Ceci est une phrase française.”

It’s not to hard to figure out that this sentence is french. But the (lowercase) letters of the same sentence in a random order look like this:


Still sure it’s french? Regarding the fact that this string contains the letter “ç” some people could have remembered long passed french lessons back in school and though might have guessed right. But beside the fact that the french letter “ç” is also present for example in portuguese, turkish, catalan and a few other languages, this is still a easy example just to explain the problem. Just try to guess which language might have generated this:


While this looks simply confusing to the human eye and it seems practically impossible to determine the language it was generated from, this string still contains as set of hidden but well defined patterns from which the language could be predictet with almost complete (ca. 98-99%) certainty.

First of all, we need a set of texts in the languages our model should be able to recognise. Luckily with the package NLTK there comes a big set of example texts which actually are protocolls of the european parliament and therefor are publicly availible in 11 differen languages:

  •  Danish
  •  Dutch
  •  English
  •  Finnish
  •  French
  •  German
  •  Greek
  •  Italian
  •  Portuguese
  •  Spanish
  •  Swedish

Because the greek version is not written with the latin alphabet, the detection of the language greek would just be too simple, so we stay with the other 10 languages availible. To give you a idea of the used texts, here is a little sample:

“Resumption of the session I declare resumed the session of the European Parliament adjourned on Friday 17 December 1999, and I would like once again to wish you a happy new year in the hope that you enjoyed a pleasant festive period.
Although, as you will have seen, the dreaded ‘millennium bug’ failed to materialise, still the people in a number of countries suffered a series of natural disasters that truly were dreadful.”

Train and Test

The following code imports the nessesary modules and reads the sample texts from a set of text files into a pandas.Dataframe object and prints some statistics about the read texts:

Above you see a sample set of random rows of the created Dataframe. After removing very short text snipplets (less than 200 chars) we are left with 56481 snipplets. The function clean_eutextdf() then creates a lower case representation of the texts in the coloum ‘ltext’ to facilitate counting the chars in the next step.
The following code snipplet now extracs the features – in this case the relative frequency of each letter in every text snipplet – that are used for prediction:

Now that we have calculated the features for every text snipplet in our dataset, we can split our data set in a train and test set:

After doing that, we can train a k-nearest-neigbours classifier and test it to get the percentage of correctly predicted languages in the test data set. Because we do not know what value for k may be the best choice, we just run the training and testing with different values for k in a for loop:

As you can see in the output the reliability of the language classifier is generally very high: It starts at about 97.5% for k = 1, increases for with increasing values of k until it reaches a maximum level of about 98.5% at k ≈ 10.

Using the Classifier to predict languages of texts

Now that we have trained and tested the classifier we want to use it to predict the language of example texts. To do that we need two more functions, shown in the following piece of code. The first one extracts the nessesary features from the sample text and predict_lang() predicts the language of a the texts:

With this classifier it is now also possible to predict the language of the randomized example snipplet from the introduction (which is acutally created from the first paragraph of this article):

The KNN classifier of sklearn also offers the possibility to predict the propability with which a given classification is made. While the probability distribution for a specific language is relativly clear for long sample texts it decreases noticeably the shorter the texts are.

Background and Insights

Why does a relative simple model like counting letters acutally work? Every language has a specific pattern of letter frequencies which can be used as a kind of fingerprint: While there are almost no y‘s in the german language this letter is quite common in english. In french the letter k is not very common because it is replaced with q in most cases.

For a better understanding look at the output of the following code snipplet where only three letters already lead to a noticable form of clustering:


Even though every single letter frequency by itself is not a very reliable indicator, the set of frequencies of all present letters in a text is a quite good evidence because it will more or less represent the letter frequency fingerprint of the given language. Since it is quite hard to imagine or visualize the above plot in more than three dimensions, I used a little trick which shows that every language has its own typical fingerprint of letter frequencies:

What more?

Beside the fact, that letter frequencies alone, allow us to predict the language of every example text (at least in the 10 languages with latin alphabet we trained for) with almost complete certancy there is even more information hidden in the set of sample texts.

As you might know, most languages in europe belong to either the romanian or the indogermanic language family (which is actually because the romans conquered only half of europe). The border between them could be located in belgium, between france and germany and in swiss. West of this border the romanian languages, which originate from latin, are still spoken, like spanish, portouguese and french. In the middle and northern part of europe the indogermanic languages are very common like german, dutch, swedish ect. If we plot the analysed languages with a different colour sheme this border gets quite clear and allows us to take a look back in history that tells us where our languages originate from:

As you can see the more common letters, especially the vocals like a, e, i, o and u have almost the same frequency in all of this languages. Far more interesting are letters like q, k, c and w: While k is quite common in all of the indogermanic languages it is quite rare in romanic languages because the same sound is written with the letters q or c.
As a result it could be said, that even “boring” sets of data (just give it a try and read all the texts of the protocolls of the EU parliament…) could contain quite interesting patterns which – in this case – allows us to predict quite precisely which language a given text sample is written in, without the need of any translation program or to speak the languages. And as an interesting side effect, where certain things in history happend (or not happend): After two thousand years have passed, modern machine learning techniques could easily uncover this history because even though all these different languages developed, they still have a set of hidden but common patterns that since than stayed the same.

Sentiment Analysis using Python

One of the applications of text mining is sentiment analysis. Most of the data is getting generated in textual format and in the past few years, people are talking more about NLP. Improvement is a continuous process and many product based companies leverage these text mining techniques to examine the sentiments of the customers to find about what they can improve in the product. This information also helps them to understand the trend and demand of the end user which results in Customer satisfaction.

As text mining is a vast concept, the article is divided into two subchapters. The main focus of this article will be calculating two scores: sentiment polarity and subjectivity using python. The range of polarity is from -1 to 1(negative to positive) and will tell us if the text contains positive or negative feedback. Most companies prefer to stop their analysis here but in our second article, we will try to extend our analysis by creating some labels out of these scores. Finally, a multi-label multi-class classifier can be trained to predict future reviews.

Without any delay let’s deep dive into the code and mine some knowledge from textual data.

There are a few NLP libraries existing in Python such as Spacy, NLTK, gensim, TextBlob, etc. For this particular article, we will be using NLTK for pre-processing and TextBlob to calculate sentiment polarity and subjectivity.

The dataset is available here for download and we will be using pandas read_csv function to import the dataset. I would like to share an additional information here which I came to know about recently. Those who have already used python and pandas before they probably know that read_csv is by far one of the most used function. However, it can take a while to upload a big file. Some folks from  RISELab at UC Berkeley created Modin or Pandas on Ray which is a library that speeds up this process by changing a single line of code.

After importing the dataset it is recommended to understand it first and study the structure of the dataset. At this point we are interested to know how many columns are there and what are these columns so I am going to check the shape of the data frame and go through each column name to see if we need them or not.


There are so many columns which are not useful for our sentiment analysis and it’s better to remove these columns. There are many ways to do that: either just select the columns which you want to keep or select the columns you want to remove and then use the drop function to remove it from the data frame. I prefer the second option as it allows me to look at each column one more time so I don’t miss any important variable for the analysis.

Now let’s dive deep into the data and try to mine some knowledge from the remaining columns. The first step we would want to follow here is just to look at the distribution of the variables and try to make some notes. First, let’s look at the distribution of the ratings.

Graphs are powerful and at this point, just by looking at the above bar graph we can conclude that most people are somehow satisfied with the products offered at Amazon. The reason I am saying ‘at’ Amazon is because it is just a platform where anyone can sell their products and the user are giving ratings to the product and not to Amazon. However, if the user is satisfied with the products it also means that Amazon has a lower return rate and lower fraud case (from seller side). The job of a Data Scientist relies not only on how good a model is but also on how useful it is for the business and that’s why these business insights are really important.

Data pre-processing for textual variables


Before we move forward to calculate the sentiment scores for each review it is important to pre-process the textual data. Lowercasing helps in the process of normalization which is an important step to keep the words in a uniform manner (Welbers, et al., 2017, pp. 245-265).

Special characters

Special characters are non-alphabetic and non-numeric values such as {!,@#$%^ *()~;:/<>\|+_-[]?}. Dealing with numbers is straightforward but special characters can be sometimes tricky. During tokenization, special characters create their own tokens and again not helpful for any algorithm, likewise, numbers.


Stop-words being most commonly used in the English language; however, these words have no predictive power in reality. Words such as I, me, myself, he, she, they, our, mine, you, yours etc.


Stemming algorithm is very useful in the field of text mining and helps to gain relevant information as it reduces all words with the same roots to a common form by removing suffixes such as -action, ing, -es and -ses. However, there can be problematic where there are spelling errors.

This step is extremely useful for pre-processing textual data but it also depends on your goal. Here our goal is to calculate sentiment scores and if you look closely to the above code words like ‘inexpensive’ and ‘thrilled’ became ‘inexpens’ and ‘thrill’ after applying this technique. This will help us in text classification to deal with the curse of dimensionality but to calculate the sentiment score this process is not useful.

Sentiment Score

It is now time to calculate sentiment scores of each review and check how these scores look like.

As it can be observed there are two scores: the first score is sentiment polarity which tells if the sentiment is positive or negative and the second score is subjectivity score to tell how subjective is the text. The whole code is available here.

In my next article, we will extend this analysis by creating labels based on these scores and finally we will train a classification model.

Einstieg in Natural Language Processing – Teil 2: Preprocessing von Rohtext mit Python

Dies ist der zweite Artikel der Artikelserie Einstieg in Natural Language Processing.

In diesem Artikel wird das so genannte Preprocessing von Texten behandelt, also Schritte die im Bereich des NLP in der Regel vor eigentlichen Textanalyse durchgeführt werden.


Um eingelesenen Rohtext in ein Format zu überführen, welches in der späteren Analyse einfacher ausgewertet werden kann, sind eine ganze Reihe von Schritten notwendig. Ganz allgemein besteht der erste Schritt darin, den auszuwertenden Text in einzelne kurze Abschnitte – so genannte Tokens – zu zerlegen (außer man bastelt sich völlig eigene Analyseansätze, wie zum Beispiel eine Spracherkennung anhand von Buchstabenhäufigkeiten ect.).

Was genau ein Token ist, hängt vom verwendeten Tokenizer ab. So bringt NLTK bereits standardmäßig unter anderem BlankLine-, Line-, Sentence-, Word-, Wordpunkt- und SpaceTokenizer mit, welche Text entsprechend in Paragraphen, Zeilen, Sätze, Worte usw. aufsplitten. Weiterhin ist mit dem RegexTokenizer ein Tool vorhanden, mit welchem durch Wahl eines entsprechenden Regulären Ausdrucks beliebig komplexe eigene Tokenizer erstellt werden können.

Üblicherweise wird ein Text (evtl. nach vorherigem Aufsplitten in Paragraphen oder Sätze) schließlich in einzelne Worte und Interpunktionen (Satzzeichen) aufgeteilt. Hierfür kann, wie im folgenden Beispiel z. B. der WordTokenizer oder die diesem entsprechende Funktion word_tokenize() verwendet werden.

Stemming & Lemmatizing

Andere häufig durchgeführte Schritte sind Stemming sowie Lemmatizing. Hierbei werden die Suffixe der einzelnen Tokens des Textes mit Hilfe eines Stemmers in eine Form überführt, welche nur den Wortstamm zurücklässt. Dies hat den Zweck verschiedene grammatikalische Formen des selben Wortes (welche sich oft in ihrer Endung unterscheiden (ich gehe, du gehst, er geht, wir gehen, …) ununterscheidbar zu machen. Diese würden sonst als mehrere unabhängige Worte in die darauf folgende Analyse eingehen.

Neben bereits fertigen Stemmern bietet NLTK auch für diesen Schritt die Möglichkeit sich eigene Stemmer zu programmieren. Da verschiedene Stemmer Suffixe nach unterschiedlichen Regeln entfernen, sind nur die Wortstämme miteinander vergleichbar, welche mit dem selben Stemmer generiert wurden!

Im forlgenden Beispiel werden verschiedene vordefinierte Stemmer aus dem Paket NLTK auf den bereits oben verwendeten Beispielsatz angewendet und die Ergebnisse der gestemmten Tokens in einer Art einfachen Tabelle ausgegeben:

Sehr ähnlich den Stemmern arbeiten Lemmatizer: Auch ihre Aufgabe ist es aus verschiedenen Formen eines Wortes die jeweilige Grundform zu bilden. Im Unterschied zu den Stemmern ist das Lemma eines Wortes jedoch klar als dessen Grundform definiert.


Auch das Vokabular, also die Menge aller verschiedenen Worte eines Textes, ist eine informative Kennzahl. Bezieht man die Größe des Vokabulars eines Textes auf seine gesamte Anzahl verwendeter Worte, so lassen sich hiermit Aussagen zu der Diversität des Textes machen.

Außerdem kann das auftreten bestimmter Worte später bei der automatischen Einordnung in Kategorien wichtig werden: Will man beispielsweise Nachrichtenmeldungen nach Themen kategorisieren und in einem Text tritt das Wort „DAX“ auf, so ist es deutlich wahrscheinlicher, dass es sich bei diesem Text um eine Meldung aus dem Finanzbereich handelt, als z. B. um das „Kochrezept des Tages“.

Dies mag auf den ersten Blick trivial erscheinen, allerdings können auch mit einfachen Modellen, wie dem so genannten „Bag-of-Words-Modell“, welches nur die Anzahl des Auftretens von Worten prüft, bereits eine Vielzahl von Informationen aus Texten gewonnen werden.

Das reine Vokabular eines Textes, welcher in der Variable “rawtext” gespeichert ist, kann wie folgt in der Variable “vocab” gespeichert werden. Auf die Ausgabe wurde in diesem Fall verzichtet, da diese im Falle des oben als Beispiel gewählten Satzes den einzelnen Tokens entspricht, da kein Wort öfter als ein Mal vorkommt.


Unter Stopwords werden Worte verstanden, welche zwar sehr häufig vorkommen, jedoch nur wenig Information zu einem Text beitragen. Beispiele in der beutschen Sprache sind: der, und, aber, mit, …

Sowohl NLTK als auch cpaCy bringen vorgefertigte Stopwordsets mit. 

Vorsicht: NLTK besitzt eine Stopwordliste, welche erst in ein Set umgewandelt werden sollte um die lookup-Zeiten kurz zu halten – schließlich muss jedes einzelne Token des Textes auf das vorhanden sein in der Stopworditerable getestet werden!


POS-Tagging steht für „Part of Speech Tagging“ und entspricht ungefähr den Aufgaben, die man noch aus dem Deutschunterricht kennt: „Unterstreiche alle Subjekte rot, alle Objekte blau…“. Wichtig ist diese Art von Tagging insbesondere, wenn man später tatsächlich strukturiert Informationen aus dem Text extrahieren möchte, da man hierfür wissen muss wer oder was als Subjekt mit wem oder was als Objekt interagiert.

Obwohl genau die selben Worte vorkommen, bedeutet der Satz „Die Katze frisst die Maus.“ etwas anderes als „Die Maus frisst die Katze.“, da hier Subjekt und Objekt aufgrund ihrer Reihenfolge vertauscht sind (Stichwort: Subjekt – Prädikat – Objekt ).

Weniger wichtig ist dieser Schritt bei der Kategorisierung von Dokumenten. Insbesondere bei dem bereits oben erwähnten Bag-of-Words-Modell, fließen POS-Tags überhaupt nicht mit ein.

Und weil es so schön einfach ist: Die obigen Schritte mit spaCy

Die obigen Methoden und Arbeitsschritte, welche Texte die in natürlicher Sprache geschrieben sind, allgemein computerzugänglicher und einfacher auswertbar machen, können beliebig genau den eigenen Wünschen angepasst, einzeln mit dem Paket NLTK durchgeführt werden. Dies zumindest einmal gemacht zu haben, erweitert das Verständnis für die funktionsweise einzelnen Schritte und insbesondere deren manchmal etwas versteckten Komplexität. (Wie muss beispielsweise ein Tokenizer funktionieren der den Satz “Schwierig ist z. B. dieser Satz.” korrekt in nur einen Satz aufspaltet, anstatt ihn an jedem Punkt welcher an einem Wortende auftritt in insgesamt vier Sätze aufzuspalten, von denen einer nur aus einem Leerzeichen besteht?) Hier soll nun aber, weil es so schön einfach ist, auch das analoge Vorgehen mit dem Paket spaCy beschrieben werden:

Dieser kurze Codeabschnitt liest den an spaCy übergebenen Rohtext in ein spaCy Doc-Object ein und führt dabei automatisch bereits alle oben beschriebenen sowie noch eine Reihe weitere Operationen aus. So stehen neben dem immer noch vollständig gespeicherten Originaltext, die einzelnen Sätze, Worte, Lemmas, Noun-Chunks, Named Entities, Part-of-Speech-Tags, ect. direkt zur Verfügung und können.über die Methoden des Doc-Objektes erreicht werden. Des weiteren liegen auch verschiedene weitere Objekte wie beispielsweise Vektoren zur Bestimmung von Dokumentenähnlichkeiten bereits fertig vor.

Die Folgende Übersicht soll eine kurze (aber noch lange nicht vollständige) Übersicht über die automatisch von spaCy generierten Objekte und Methoden zur Textanalyse geben:

Diese „Vollautomatisierung“ der Vorabschritte zur Textanalyse hat jedoch auch seinen Preis: spaCy geht nicht gerade sparsam mit Ressourcen wie Rechenleistung und Arbeitsspeicher um. Will man einen oder einige Texte untersuchen so ist spaCy oft die einfachste und schnellste Lösung für das Preprocessing. Anders sieht es aber beispielsweise aus, wenn eine bestimmte Analyse wie zum Beispiel die Einteilung in verschiedene Textkategorien auf eine sehr große Anzahl von Texten angewendet werden soll. In diesem Fall, sollte man in Erwägung ziehen auf ressourcenschonendere Alternativen wie zum Beispiel gensim auszuweichen.

Wer beim lesen genau aufgepasst hat, wird festgestellt haben, dass ich im Abschnitt POS-Tagging im Gegensatz zu den anderen Abschnitten auf ein kurzes Codebeispiel verzichtet habe. Dies möchte ich an dieser Stelle nachholen und dabei gleich eine Erweiterung des Pakets spaCy vorstellen: displaCy.

Displacy bietet die Möglichkeit, sich Zusammenhänge und Eigenschaften von Texten wie Named Entities oder eben POS-Tagging graphisch im Browser anzeigen zu lassen.

Nach ausführen des obigen Codes erhält man eine Ausgabe die wie folgt aussieht:

Nun öffnet man einen Browser und ruft die URL ‘’ auf (Achtung: localhost anstatt der IP funktioniert – warum auch immer – mit displacy nicht). Im Browser sollte nun eine Seite mit einem SVG-Bild geladen werden, welches wie folgt aussieht

Die Abbildung macht deutlich was POS-Tagging genau ist und warum es von Nutzen sein kann wenn man Informationen aus einem Text extrahieren will. Jedem Word (Token) ist eine Wortart zugeordnet und die Beziehung der einzelnen Worte durch Pfeile dargestellt. Dies ermöglicht es dem Computer zum Beispiel in dem Satzteil “der grüne Apfel”, das Adjektiv “grün” auf das Nomen “Apfel” zu beziehen und diesem somit als Eigenschaft zuzuordnen.

Nachdem dieser Artikel wichtige Schritte des Preprocessing von Texten beschrieben hat, geht es im nächsten Artikel darum was man an Texten eigentlich analysieren kann und welche Analysemöglichkeiten die verschiedenen für Python vorhandenen Module bieten.

Deep Learning and Human Intelligence – Part 2 of 2

Data dependency is one of the biggest problem of Deep Learning Architectures. This difficulty lies not so much in the algorithm of Deep Learning as in the invisible structure of the data itself.

This is part 2 of 2 of the Article Series: Deep Learning and Human Intelligence.

We saw that the process of discovering numbers was accompanied with many aspects of what are today basic ideas of Machine Learning. But let us go back, a little before that time, when humankind did not fully discovered the concept of numbers. How would a person, at such a time, perceive quantity and the count of things? Some structures are easily recognizable as patterns of objects, that is numbers, like one sun, 2 trees, 3 children, 4 clouds and so on. Sets of objects are much simpler to count if all the objects of the set are present. In such a case it is sufficient to keep a one-to-one relationship between two different set, without the need for numbers, to make a judgement of crucial importance. One could consider the case of two enemies that go to war and wish to know which has a larger army. It is enough to associate a small stone to every enemy soldier and do the same with his one soldier to be able to decide, depending if stones are left or not, if his army is larger or not, without ever needing to know the exact number soldier of any of the armies.

But also does things can be counted which are not directly visible, and do not allow a direct association with direct observable objects that can be seen, like stones. Would a person, at that time, be able to observe easily the 4-th day since today, 5 weeks from now, when even the concept of week is already composite? Counting in this case is only possible if numbers are already developed through direct observation, and we use something similar with stones in our mind, i.e. a cognitive association, a number. Only then, one can think of the concept of measuring at equidistant moments in time at all. This is the reason why such measurements where still cutting edge in the time of Galileo Galilei as we seen before. It is easily to assume that even in the time when humans started to count, such indirect concepts of numbers were not considered to be in relation with numbers. This implies that many concepts with which we are today accustomed to regard as a number, were considered as belonging to different groups, cluster which are not related. Such an hypothesis is not even that much farfetched. Evidence for such a time are still present in some languages, like Japanese.

When we think of numbers, we associate them with the Indo-Arabic numbers, but in Japanese numbers have no decimal structure and counting depends not only on the length of the set (which is usually considered as the number), but also on the objects that make up the set. In Japanese one can speak of meeting roku people, visiting muttsu cities and seeing ropa birds, but referring each time to the same number: six. Additional, many regular or irregular suffixes make the whole system quite complicated. The division of counting into so many clusters seems unnecessarily complicated today, but can easily be understood from a point of view where language and numbers still form and, the numbers, were not yet a uniform concept. What one can learn from this is that the lack of a unifying concept implies an overly complex dependence on data, which is the present case for Deep Learning and AI in general.

Although Deep Learning was a breakthrough in the development of Artificial Intelligence, the task such algorithms can perform were and remained very narrow. It may identify birds or cancer cells, but it will miss the song of the birds or the cry of the patient with cancer. When Watson, a Deep Learning Architecture played the famous Jeopardy game against two former Champions and won, it still made several simple mistakes, like going for the same wrong answer like the player before. If it could listen to the answer of the candidate, it could delete the top answer it had, and gibe the second which was the right one. With other words, Deep Learning Architecture are not multi-tasking and it is for this reason that some experts in AI are calling them intelligent idiots.

Imagine spending time learning to play a game for years and years, and then, when mastering it and wish to play a different game, to be unable to use any of the past experience (of gaming) for the new one and needing to learn everything from scratch. That could be quite depressing and would make life needlessly difficult. This is the reason why people involved in developing Deep Learning worked from early on in the development of multi-tasking Deep Learning Architectures. On the way a different method of using Deep Learning was discovered: transfer learning. Because the time it takes for a Deep Learning Architecture to learn is very long, transfer learning uses already learned Deep Learning Architectures but for slightly different task. It is similar to the use of past experiences in solving new problems, but, the advantage of transfer learning is, it allow the using of past experiences (what it already learned) which reduces dramatically the amount of new data needed in performing a new task. Still, transfer learning is far away from permitting Deep Learning Architectures to perform any kind of task learning only from one master data set.

The management of a unique master data set which includes all the needed data to enable human accuracy for any human activity, is not enough. One needs another ingredient, the so called cost function which translates, in this case, to the human brain. There are all our experiences and knowledge. How long does it takes to collect sufficient of both to handle a normal human life? How much to achieve our highest potential? If not a lifetime, at least decades. And this also applies to our job: as a IT-developer, a Data Scientist or a professor at the university. We will always have to learn new things, how to use them, and how to expand the limits of our perceptions. The vast amount of information that science has gathered over the last four centuries makes it impossible for any human being to become an expert in all of it. Thus, one has to specialized. After the university, anyone has to choose o subject which is appealing enough to study it for decades. Here is the first sign of what can be understood as data segmentation and dependency. Such improvements can come in various forms: an algorithm in the IT, a theorem in mathematics, a new way to look at particles in physics or a new method to scan for diseases in biology, and so on. But there is a price to pay for specialization: the inability to be an expert in another field or subfield. (Subfields induces limitation!)

Lets take the Deep Learning algorithm itself as an example. For IT and much of everyday life, this is a real breakthrough, but it lacks any scientific, that is mathematical, foundation. There are no theorems which proofs that it will find (converge, to use a mathematical term) the global optimum. This does not appear to be of any great consequences if it can be so efficient, except that, when adding new data and let the algorithm learn the same architecture again, there is no guaranty what so ever that it will be as good as the old model, or even better. On the contrary, it is as real as the efficiency of the first model, that chances are that the new model with the new data will perform worse than the old model, and one has to invest again time in finding a better model, or even a different architecture. On the other hand, with a mathematical proof of convergence, it would be always possible to know in what condition such a convergence can be achieved. In other words, without deep knowledge in mathematics, any proof of a consistent Deep Learning Algorithm is impossible.

Such a situation is true for any other corssover between fields. A mathematical genius will make a lousy biologist, a great chemist will make a average economist, and a top economist will be a poor physicist. Knowledge is difficult to transfer and this is true also for everyday experiences. We learn from very small to play a game like football, but are unable to use the reflexes to play basketball, or tennis better than a normal beginner. We learn a new language after years and years of practice, but are unable to use the way we learned to learn faster other languages. We are trapped within the knowledge we developed from the data we used. It is for this reason why we cannot transfer the knowledge a mathematician has developed over decades to use it in biology or psychology, even if the knowledge is very advanced. Instead of thinking in knowledge, we thing in data. This is similar to the people which were unaware of numbers, and used sets (data) to work with them. Numbers could be very difficult to transmit from one person to another in former times.

Only think on all the great achievements that our society managed, like relativity, quantum mechanics, DNA, machines, etc. Such discoveries are the essences of human knowledge and took millennia to form and centuries to crystalize. Still, all this knowledge is captive in the data, in the special frame in which it was discovered and never had the chance to escape. Imagine the possibility to use thoughts/causalities like the one in relativity or quantum mechanics in biology, or history, or of the concept of DNA in mathematics or art. Imagine a music composition where the law of the notes allows a “tunnel effect” like in quantum mechanics, lower notes to warp the music scales like in relativity and/or to twist two music scale in a helix-like play. How many way to experience life awaits us. Or think of the knowledge hidden in mathematics which could help develop new medicine, but can not be transmitted.

Another example of the connection we experience between knowledge and the data through which we obtain it, are children. They are classical example when it come determine if one is up to explain to them something. Take as an explain something simple they can observe often, like lightning and thunder. Normal concepts like particles, charge, waves, propagation, medium of propagation, etc. become so complicated to expose by other means then the one through which they were discovered, that it becomes nearly impossible to explain to children how it works and that they do not need to fear it. Still, one can use analogy (i.e., transfer) to enable an explanation. Instead of particles, one can use balls, for charge one can use hardness, waves can be shown with strings by keeping one end fix and waving the other, propagation is the movement of the waves from one end of the string to the other end, medium of propagation is the difference between walking in air and water, etc. Although difficult, analogies can be found which enables us to explain even to children how complex phenomena works.

The same is true also for Deep Learning. The model, the knowledge it can extract from the data can be expressed only by such data alone. There is no transformation of the knowledge from one type of data to another. If such a transformation would exists, then Deep Learning would be able to learn any human task by only a set of data, a master data set. Without such a master data set and a corresponding cost function it will be nearly impossible to develop AI that mimics human behavior. With other words, without the realization how our mind works, and how to crystalize by this the data needed, AI will still need to look at all the activities separately. It also implies that AI are restricted to the human understanding of reality and themselves. Only with such a characteristic of a living being, thus also AI, can development of its on occur.