Bag of Words: Convert text into vectors

In this blog, we will study about the model that represents and converts text to numbers i.e. the Bag of Words (BOW). The bag-of-words model has seen great success in solving problems which includes language modeling and document classification as it is simple to understand and implement.

After completing this particular blog, you all will have an overview of: What does the bag-of-words model mean by and why is its importance in representing text. How we can develop a bag-of-words model for a collection of documents. How to use the bag of words to prepare a vocabulary and deploy in a model using programming language.


The problem and its solution…

The biggest problem with modeling text is that it is unorganised, and most of the statistical algorithms, i.e., the machine learning and deep learning techniques prefer well defined numeric data. They cannot work with raw text directly, therefore we have to convert text into numbers.

Word embeddings are commonly used in many Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks because they are found to be useful representations of words and often lead to better performance in the various tasks performed. A huge number of approaches exist in this regard, among which some of the most widely used are Bag of Words, Fasttext, TF-IDF, Glove and word2vec. For easy user implementation, several libraries exist, such as Scikit-Learn and NLTK, which can implement these techniques in one line of code. But it is important to understand the working principle behind these word embedding techniques. As already said before, in this blog, we see how to implement Bag of words and the best way to do so is to implement these techniques from scratch in Python . Before we start with coding, let’s try to understand the theory behind the model approach.

 Theory Behind Bag of Words Approach

In simple words, Bag of words can be defined as a Natural Language Processing technique used for text modelling or we can say that it is a method of feature extraction with text data from documents.  It involves mainly two things firstly, a vocabulary of known words and, then a measure of the presence of known words.

The process of converting NLP text into numbers is called vectorization in machine learning language.A lot of different ways are available in converting text into vectors which are:

Counting the number of times each word appears in a document, and Calculating the frequency that each word appears in a document out of all the words in the document.

Understanding using an example

To understand the bag of words approach, let’s see how this technique converts text into vectors with the help of an example. Suppose we have a corpus with three sentences:

  1. “I like to eat mangoes”
  2. “Did you like to eat jellies?”
  3. “I don’t like to eat jellies”

Step 1: Firstly, we go through all the words in the above three sentences and make a list of all of the words present in our model vocabulary.

  1. I
  2. like
  3. to
  4. eat
  5. mangoes
  6. Did
  7. you
  8. like
  9. to
  10. eat
  11. Jellies
  12. I
  13. don’t
  14. like
  15. to
  16. eat
  17. jellies

Step 2: Let’s find out the frequency of each word without preprocessing our text.

But is this not the best way to perform a bag of words. In the above example, the words Jellies and jellies are considered twice no doubt they hold the same meaning. So, let us make some changes and see how we can use ‘bag of words’ by preprocessing our text in a more effective way.

Step 3: Let’s find out the frequency of each word with preprocessing our text. Preprocessing is so very important because it brings our text into such a form that is easily understandable, predictable and analyzable for our task.

Firstly, we need to convert the above sentences into lowercase characters as case does not hold any information. Then it is very important to remove any special characters or punctuations if present in our document, or else it makes the conversion more messy.

From the above explanation, we can say the major advantage of Bag of Words is that it is very easy to understand and quite simple to implement in our datasets. But this approach has some disadvantages too such as:

  1. Bag of words leads to a high dimensional feature vector due to the large size of word vocabulary.
  2. Bag of words assumes all words are independent of each other ie’, it doesn’t leverage co-occurrence statistics between words.
  3. It leads to a highly sparse vector as there is nonzero value in dimensions corresponding to words that occur in the sentence.

Bag of Words Model in Python Programming

The first thing that we need to create is a proper dataset for implementing our Bag of Words model. In the above sections, we have manually created a bag of words model with three sentences. However, now we shall find a random corpus on Wikipedia such as ‘‘.

Step 1: The very first step is to import the required libraries: nltk, numpy, random, string, bs4, urllib.request and re.

Step 2: Once we are done with importing the libraries, now we will be using the Beautifulsoup4 library to parse the data from Wikipedia.Along with that we shall be using Python’s regex library, re, for preprocessing tasks of our document. So, we will scrape the Wikipedia article on Bag of Words.

Step 3: As we can observe, in the above code snippet we have imported the raw HTML for the Wikipedia article from which we have filtered the text within the paragraph text and, finally,have created a complete corpus by merging up all the paragraphs.

Step 4: The very next step is to split the corpus into individual sentences by using the sent_tokenize function from the NLTK library.

Step 5: Our text contains a number of punctuations which are unnecessary for our word frequency dictionary. In the below code snippet, we will see how to convert our text into lower case and then remove all the punctuations from our text, which will result in multiple empty spaces which can be again removed using regex.

Step 6: Once the preprocessing is done, let’s find out the number of sentences present in our corpus and then, print one sentence from our corpus to see how it looks.

Step 7: We can observe that the text doesn’t contain any special character or multiple empty spaces, and so our own corpus is ready. The next step is to tokenize each sentence in the corpus and create a dictionary containing each word and their corresponding frequencies.

As you can see above, we have created a dictionary called wordfreq. Next, we iterate through each word in the sentence and check if it exists in the wordfreq dictionary.  On its existence,we will add the word as the key and set the value of the word as 1.

Step 8: Our corpus has more than 500 words in total and so we shall filter down to the 200 most frequently occurring words by using Python’s heap library.

Step 9: Now, comes the final step of converting the sentences in our corpus into their corresponding vector representation. Let’s check the below code snippet to understand it. Our model is in the form of a list of lists which can be easily converted matrix form using this script:

On the difficulty of language: prerequisites for NLP with deep learning

This is the first article of my article series “Instructions on Transformer for people outside NLP field, but with examples of NLP.”

1 Preface

This section is virtually just my essay on language. You can skip this if you want to get down on more technical topic.

As I do not study in natural language processing (NLP) field, I would not be able to provide that deep insight into this fast changing deep leaning field throughout my article series. However at least I do understand language is a difficult and profound field, not only in engineering but also in many other study fields. Some people might be feeling that technologies are eliminating languages, or one’s motivations to understand other cultures. First of all, I would like you to keep it in mind that I am not a geek who is trying to turn this multilingual world into a homogeneous one and rebuild Tower of Babel, with deep learning. I would say I am more keen on social or anthropological sides of language.

I think you would think more about languages if you have mastered at least one foreign language. As my mother tongue is Japanese, which is totally different from many other Western languages in terms of characters and ambiguity, I understand translating is not what learning a language is all about. Each language has unique characteristics, and I believe they more or less influence one’s personalities. For example, many Western languages make the verb, I mean the conclusion, of sentences clear in the beginning part of the sentences. That is also true of Chinese, I heard. However in Japanese, the conclusion comes at the end, so that is likely to give an impression that Japanese people are being obscure or indecisive. Also, Japanese sentences usually omit their subjects. In German as well, the conclusion of a sentences tend to come at the end, but I am almost 100% sure that no Japanese people would feel German people make things unclear. I think that comes from the structures of German language, which tends to make the number, verb, relations of words crystal clear.

Let’s take an example to see how obscure Japanese is. A Japanese sentence 「頭が赤い魚を食べる猫」can be interpreted in five ways, depending on where you put emphases on.

Common sense tells you that the sentence is likely to mean the first two cases, but I am sure they can mean those five possibilities. There might be similarly obscure sentences in other languages, but I bet few languages can be as obscure as Japanese. Also as you can see from the last two sentences, you can omit subjects in Japanese. This rule is nothing exceptional. Japanese people usually don’t use subjects in normal conversations. And when you read classical Japanese, which Japanese high school students have to do just like Western students learn some of classical Latin, the writings omit subjects much more frequently.

*However interestingly we have rich vocabulary of subjects. The subject “I” can be translated to 「私」、「僕」、「俺」、「自分」、「うち」etc, depending on your personality, who you are talking to, and the time when it is written in.

I believe one can see the world only in the framework of their language, and it seems one’s personality changes depending on the language they use. I am not sure whether the language originally determines how they think, or how they think forms the language. But at least I would like you to keep it in mind that if you translate a conversation, for example a random conversation at a bar in Berlin, into Japanese, that would linguistically sound Japanese, but not anthropologically. Imagine that such kind of random conversation in Berlin or something is like playing a catch, I mean throwing a ball named “your opinion.” On the other hand,  normal conversations of Japanese people are in stead more of, I would say,  “resonance” of several tuning forks. They do their bests to show that they are listening to each other, by excessively nodding or just repeating “Really?”, but usually it seems hardly any constructive dialogues have been made.

*I sometimes feel you do not even need deep learning to simulate most of such Japanese conversations. Several-line Python codes would be enough.

My point is, this article series is mainly going to cover only a few techniques of NLP in deep learning field: sequence to sequence model (seq2seq model) , and especially Transformer. They are, at least for now, just mathematical models and mappings of a small part of this profound field of language (as far as I can cover in this article series). But still, examples of language would definitely help you understand Transformer model in the long run.

2 Tokens and word embedding

*Throughout my article series, “words” just means the normal words you use in daily life. “Tokens” means more general unit of NLP tasks. For example the word “Transformer” might be denoted as a single token “Transformer,” or maybe as a combination of two tokens “Trans” and “former.”

One challenging part of handling language data is its encodings. If you started learning programming in a language other than English, you would have encountered some troubles of using keyboards with different arrangements or with characters. Some comments on your codes in your native languages are sometimes not readable on some software. You can easily get away with that by using only English, but when it comes to NLP you have to deal with this difficulty seriously. How to encode characters in each language should be a first obstacle of NLP. In this article we are going to rely on a library named BPEmb, which provides word embedding in various languages, and you do not have to care so much about encodings in languages all over the world with this library.

In the first section, you might have noticed that Japanese sentence is not separated with spaces like Western languages. This is also true of Chinese language, and that means we need additional tasks of separating those sentences at least into proper chunks of words. This is not only a matter of engineering, but also of some linguistic fields. Also I think many people are not so conscious of how sentences in their native languages are grammatically separated.

The next point is, unlike other scientific data, such as temperature, velocity, voltage, or air pressure, language itself is not measured as numerical data. Thus in order to process language, including English, you first have to map language to certain numerical data, and after some processes you need to conversely map the output numerical data into language data. This section is going to be mainly about one-hot encoding and word embedding, the ways to convert word/token into numerical data. You might already have heard about this

You might have learnt about word embedding to some extent, but I hope you could get richer insight into this topic through this article.

2.1 One-hot encoding

One-hot encoding would be the most straightforward way to encode words/tokens. Assume that you have a dictionary whose size is |\mathcal{V}|, and it includes words from “a”, “ablation”, “actually” to “zombie”, “?”, “!”

In a mathematical manner, in order to choose a word out of those |\mathcal{V}| words, all you need is a |\mathcal{V}| dimensional vector, one of whose elements is 1, and the others are 0. When you want to choose the No. i word, which is “indeed” in the example below, its corresponding one-hot vector is \boldsymbol{v} = (0, \dots, 1, \dots, 0 ), where only the No. i element is 1. One-hot encoding is also easy to understand, and that’s all. It is easy to imagine that people have already come up with more complicated and better way to encoder words. And one major way to do that is word embedding.

2.2 Word embedding

Source: Francois Chollet, Deep Learning with Python,(2018), Manning

Actually word embedding is related to one-hot encoding, and if you understand how to train a simple neural network, for example densely connected layers, you would understand word embedding easily. The key idea of word embedding is denoting each token with a D dimensional vector, whose dimension is fewer than the vocabulary size |\mathcal{V}|. The elements of the resulting word embedding vector are real values, I mean not only 0 or 1. Obviously you can encode much richer variety of tokens with such vectors. The figure at the left side is from “Deep Learning with Python” by François Chollet, and I think this is an almost perfect and simple explanation of the comparison of one-hot encoding and word embedding. But the problem is how to get such convenient vectors. The answer is very simple: you have only to train a network whose inputs are one-hot vector of the vocabulary.

The figure below is a simplified model of word embedding of a certain word. When the word is input into a neural network, only the corresponding element of the one-hot vector is 1, and that virtually means the very first input layer is composed of one neuron whose value is 1. And the only one neuron propagates to the next D dimensional embedding layer. These weights are the very values which most other study materials call “an embedding vector.”

When you input each word into a certain network, for example RNN or Transformer, you map the input one-hot vector into the embedding layer/vector. The examples in the figure are how inputs are made when the input sentences are “You’ve got the touch” and “You’ve got the power.”   Assume that you have a dictionary of one-hot encoding, whose vocabulary is {“the”, “You’ve”, “Walberg”, “touch”, “power”, “Nights”, “got”, “Mark”, “Boogie”}, and the dimension of word embeding is 6. In this case |\mathcal{V}| = 9, D=6. When the inputs are “You’ve got the touch” or “You’ve got the power” , you put the one-hot vector corresponding to “You’ve”, “got”, “the”, “touch” or “You’ve”, “got”, “the”, “power” sequentially every time step t.

In order to get word embedding of certain vocabulary, you just need to train the network. We know that the words “actually” and “indeed” are used in similar ways in writings. Thus when we propagate those words into the embedding layer, we can expect that those embedding layers are similar. This is how we can mathematically get effective word embedding of certain vocabulary.

More interestingly, if word embedding is properly trained, you can mathematically “calculate” words. For example, \boldsymbol{v}_{king} - \boldsymbol{v}_{man} + \boldsymbol{v}_{woman} \approx \boldsymbol{v}_{queen}, \boldsymbol{v}_{Japan} - \boldsymbol{v}_{Tokyo} + \boldsymbol{v}_{Vietnam} \approx \boldsymbol{v}_{Hanoi}.

*I have tried to demonstrate this type of calculation on several word embedding, but none of them seem to work well. At least you should keep it in mind that word embedding learns complicated linear relations between words.

I should explain word embedding techniques such as word2vec in detail, but the main focus of this article is not NLP, so the points I have mentioned are enough to understand Transformer model with NLP examples in the upcoming articles.


3 Language model

Language models is one of the most straightforward, but crucial ideas in NLP. This is also a big topic, so this article is going to cover only basic points. Language model is a mathematical model of the probabilities of which words to come next, given a context. For example if you have a sentence “In the lecture, he opened a _.”, a language model predicts what comes at the part “_.” It is obvious that this is contextual. If you are talking about general university students, “_” would be “textbook,” but if you are talking about Japanese universities, especially in liberal art department, “_” would be more likely to be “smartphone. I think most of you use this language model everyday. When you type in something on your computer or smartphone, you would constantly see text predictions, or they might even correct your spelling or grammatical errors. This is language modelling. You can make language models in several ways, such as n-gram and neural language models, but in this article I can explain only general formulations for such models.

*I am not sure which algorithm is used in which services. That must be too fast changing and competitive for me to catch up.

As I mentioned in the first article series on RNN, a sentence is usually processed as sequence data in NLP. One single sentence is denoted as \boldsymbol{X} = (\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau)}), a list of vectors. The vectors are usually embedding vectors, and the (t) is the index of the order of tokens. For example the sentence “You’ve go the power.” can be expressed as \boldsymbol{X} = (\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(4)}), where \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(4)} denote “You’ve”, “got”, “the”, “power”, “.” respectively. In this case \tau = 4.

In practice a sentence \boldsymbol{X} usually includes two tokens BOS and EOS at the beginning and the end of the sentence. They mean “Beginning Of Sentence” and “End Of Sentence” respectively. Thus in many cases \boldsymbol{X} = (\boldsymbol{BOS} , \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau)}, \boldsymbol{EOS} ). \boldsymbol{BOS} and \boldsymbol{EOS} are also both vectors, at least in the Tensorflow tutorial.

P(\boldsymbol{X} = (\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau)}, \boldsymbol{EOS}) is the probability of incidence of the sentence. But it is easy to imagine that it would be very hard to directly calculate how likely the sentence \boldsymbol{X} appears out of all possible sentences. I would rather say it is impossible. Thus instead in NLP we calculate the probability P(\boldsymbol{X}) as a product of the probability of incidence or a certain word, given all the words so far. When you’ve got the words (\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(t-1}) so far, the probability of the incidence of \boldsymbol{x}^{(t)}, given the context is  P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(t)}|\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(t-1)}). P(\boldsymbol{BOS}) is a probability of the the sentence \boldsymbol{X} being (\boldsymbol{BOS}), and the probability of \boldsymbol{X} being (\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) can be decomposed this way: P(\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) = P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}|\boldsymbol{BOS})P(\boldsymbol{BOS}).

Just as well P(\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}) = P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) P( \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)})= P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}| \boldsymbol{BOS}) P( \boldsymbol{BOS}).

Hence, the general probability of incidence of a sentence \boldsymbol{X} is P(\boldsymbol{X})=P(\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau -1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau)}, \boldsymbol{EOS}) = P(\boldsymbol{EOS}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau)}) P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau)}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau - 1)}) \cdots P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}| \boldsymbol{BOS}) P(\boldsymbol{BOS}).

Let \boldsymbol{x}^{(0)} be \boldsymbol{BOS} and \boldsymbol{x}^{(\tau + 1)} be \boldsymbol{EOS}. Plus, let P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(t+1)}|\boldsymbol{X}_{[0, t]}) be P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(t+1)}|\boldsymbol{x}^{(0)}, \dots, \boldsymbol{x}^{(t)}), then P(\boldsymbol{X}) = P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(0)})\prod_{t=0}^{\tau}{P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(t+1)}|\boldsymbol{X}_{[0, t]})}. Language models calculate which words to come sequentially in this way.

Here’s a question: how would you evaluate a language model?

I would say the answer is, when the language model generates words, the more confident the language model is, the better the language model is. Given a context, when the distribution of the next word is concentrated on a certain word, we can say the language model is confident about which word to come next, given the context.

*For some people, it would be more understandable to call this “entropy.”

Let’s take the vocabulary {“the”, “You’ve”, “Walberg”, “touch”, “power”, “Nights”, “got”, “Mark”, “Boogie”} as an example. Assume that P(\boldsymbol{X}) = P(\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{You've}, \boldsymbol{got}, \boldsymbol{the}, \boldsymbol{touch}, \boldsymbol{EOS}) = P(\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(4)}, \boldsymbol{EOS})= P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(0)})\prod_{t=0}^{4}{P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(t+1)}|\boldsymbol{X}_{[0, t]})}. Given a context (\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}), the probability of incidence of \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)} is P(\boldsymbol{x}^{2}|\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}). In the figure below, the distribution at the left side is less confident because probabilities do not spread widely, on the other hand the one at the right side is more confident that next word is “got” because the distribution concentrates on “got”.

*You have to keep it in mind that the sum of all possible probability P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(2)} | \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) is 1, that is, P(\boldsymbol{the}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) + P(\boldsymbol{You've}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) + \cdots + P(\boldsymbol{Boogie}| \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}) = 1.

While the language model generating the sentence “BOS You’ve got the touch EOS”, it is better if the language model keeps being confident. If it is confident, P(\boldsymbol{X})= P(\boldsymbol{BOS}) P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}|\boldsymbol{BOS}}P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}|\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}) P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(4)}|\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}) P(\boldsymbol{EOS}|\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(4)})} gets higher. Thus (-1) \{ log_{b}{P(\boldsymbol{BOS})} + log_{b}{P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}|\boldsymbol{BOS}}) + log_{b}{P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}|\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)})} + log_{b}{P(\boldsymbol{x}^{(4)}|\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(3)})} + log_{b}{P(\boldsymbol{EOS}|\boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(1)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(2)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(3)}, \boldsymbol{x}^{(4)})} \} gets lower, where usually b=2 or b=e.

This is how to measure how confident language models are, and the indicator of the confidence is called perplexity. Assume that you have a data set for evaluation \mathcal{D} = (\boldsymbol{X}_1, \dots, \boldsymbol{X}_n, \dots, \boldsymbol{X}_{|\mathcal{D}|}), which is composed of |\mathcal{D}| sentences in total. Each sentence \boldsymbol{X}_n = (\boldsymbol{x}^{(0)})\prod_{t=0}^{\tau ^{(n)}}{P(\boldsymbol{x}_{n}^{(t+1)}|\boldsymbol{X}_{n, [0, t]})} has \tau^{(n)} tokens in total excluding \boldsymbol{BOS}, \boldsymbol{EOS}. And let |\mathcal{V}| be the size of the vocabulary of the language model. Then the perplexity of the language model is b^z, where z = \frac{-1}{|\mathcal{V}|}\sum_{n=1}^{|\mathcal{D}|}{\sum_{t=0}^{\tau ^{(n)}}{log_{b}P(\boldsymbol{x}_{n}^{(t+1)}|\boldsymbol{X}_{n, [0, t]})}. The b is usually 2 or e.

For example, assume that \mathcal{V} is vocabulary {“the”, “You’ve”, “Walberg”, “touch”, “power”, “Nights”, “got”, “Mark”, “Boogie”}. Also assume that the evaluation data set for perplexity of a language model is \mathcal{D} = (\boldsymbol{X}_1, \boldsymbol{X}_2), where \boldsymbol{X_1} =(\boldsymbol{You've}, \boldsymbol{got}, \boldsymbol{the}, \boldsymbol{touch}) \boldsymbol{X_2} = (\boldsymbol{You've}, \boldsymbol{got}, \boldsymbol{the }, \boldsymbol{power}). In this case |\mathcal{V}|=9, |\mathcal{D}|=2. I have already showed you how to calculate the perplexity of the sentence “You’ve got the touch.” above. You just need to do a similar thing on another sentence “You’ve got the power”, and then you can get the perplexity of the language model.

*If the network is not properly trained, it would also be confident of generating wrong outputs. However, such network still would give high perplexity because it is “confident” at any rate. I’m sorry I don’t know how to tackle the problem. Please let me put this aside, and let’s get down on Transformer model soon.


Let’s see how word embedding is implemented with a very simple example in the official Tensorflow tutorial. It is a simple binary classification task on IMDb Dataset. The dataset is composed to comments on movies by movie critics, and you have only to classify if the commentary is positive or negative about the movie. For example when you get you get an input “To be honest, Michael Bay is a terrible as an action film maker. You cannot understand what is going on during combat scenes, and his movies rely too much on advertisements. I got a headache when Mark Walberg used a Chinese cridit card in Texas. However he is very competent when it comes to humorous scenes. He is very talented as a comedy director, and I have to admit I laughed a lot.“, the neural netowork has to judge whether the statement is positive or negative.

This networks just takes an average of input embedding vectors and regress it into a one dimensional value from 0 to 1. The shape of embedding layer is (8185, 16). Weights of neural netowrks are usually implemented as matrices, and you can see that each row of the matrix corresponds to emmbedding vector of each token.

*It is easy to imagine that this technique is problematic. This network virtually taking a mean of input embedding vectors. That could mean if the input sentence includes relatively many tokens with negative meanings, it is inclined to be classified as negative. But for example, if the sentence is “This masterpiece is a dark comedy by Charlie Chaplin which depicted stupidity of the evil tyrant gaining power in the time. It thoroughly mocked Germany in the time as an absurd group of fanatics, but such propaganda could have never been made until ‘Casablanca.'” , this can be classified as negative, because only the part “masterpiece” is positive as a token, and there are much more words with negative meanings themselves.

The official Tensorflow tutorial provides visualization of word embedding with Embedding Projector, but I would like you to take more control over the data by yourself. Please just copy and paste the codes below, installing necessary libraries. You would get a map of vocabulary used in the text classification task. It seems you cannot find clear tendency of the clusters of the tokens. You can try other dimension reduction methods to get maps of the vocabulary by for example using Scikit Learn.


[1] “Word embeddings” Tensorflow Core

[2]Tsuboi Yuuta, Unno Yuuya, Suzuki Jun, “Machine Learning Professional Series: Natural Language Processing with Deep Learning,” (2017), pp. 43-64, 72-85, 91-94
坪井祐太、海野裕也、鈴木潤 著, 「機械学習プロフェッショナルシリーズ 深層学習による自然言語処理」, (2017), pp. 43-64, 72-85, 191-193

[3]”Stanford CS224N: NLP with Deep Learning | Winter 2019 | Lecture 8 – Translation, Seq2Seq, Attention”, stanfordonline, (2019)

[4] Francois Chollet, Deep Learning with Python,(2018), Manning , pp. 178-185

[5]”2.2. Manifold learning,” scikit-learn

* I make study materials on machine learning, sponsored by DATANOMIQ. I do my best to make my content as straightforward but as precise as possible. I include all of my reference sources. If you notice any mistakes in my materials, including grammatical errors, please let me know (email: And if you have any advice for making my materials more understandable to learners, I would appreciate hearing it.

Simple RNN

Prerequisites for understanding RNN at a more mathematical level

Writing the A gentle introduction to the tiresome part of understanding RNN Article Series on recurrent neural network (RNN) is nothing like a creative or ingenious idea. It is quite an ordinary topic. But still I am going to write my own new article on this ordinary topic because I have been frustrated by lack of sufficient explanations on RNN for slow learners like me.

I think many of readers of articles on this website at least know that RNN is a type of neural network used for AI tasks, such as time series prediction, machine translation, and voice recognition. But if you do not understand how RNNs work, especially during its back propagation, this blog series is for you.

After reading this articles series, I think you will be able to understand RNN in more mathematical and abstract ways. But in case some of the readers are allergic or intolerant to mathematics, I tried to use as little mathematics as possible.

Ideal prerequisite knowledge:

  • Some understanding on densely connected layers (or fully connected layers, multilayer perception) and how their forward/back propagation work.
  •  Some understanding on structure of Convolutional Neural Network.

*In this article “Densely Connected Layers” is written as “DCL,” and “Convolutional Neural Network” as “CNN.”

1, Difficulty of Understanding RNN

I bet a part of difficulty of understanding RNN comes from the variety of its structures. If you search “recurrent neural network” on Google Image or something, you will see what I mean. But that cannot be helped because RNN enables a variety of tasks.

Another major difficulty of understanding RNN is understanding its back propagation algorithm. I think some of you found it hard to understand chain rules in calculating back propagation of densely connected layers, where you have to make the most of linear algebra. And I have to say backprop of RNN, especially LSTM, is a monster of chain rules. I am planing to upload not only a blog post on RNN backprop, but also a presentation slides with animations to make it more understandable, in some external links.

In order to avoid such confusions, I am going to introduce a very simplified type of RNN, which I call a “simple RNN.” The RNN displayed as the head image of this article is a simple RNN.

2, How Neurons are Connected

How to connect neurons and how to activate them is what neural networks are all about. Structures of those neurons are easy to grasp as long as that is about DCL or CNN. But when it comes to the structure of RNN, many study materials try to avoid showing that RNNs are also connections of neurons, as well as DCL or CNN(*If you are not sure how neurons are connected in CNN, this link should be helpful. Draw a random digit in the square at the corner.). In fact the structure of RNN is also the same, and as long as it is a simple RNN, and it is not hard to visualize its structure.

Even though RNN is also connections of neurons, usually most RNN charts are simplified, using blackboxes. In case of simple RNN, most study material would display it as the chart below.

But that also cannot be helped because fancier RNN have more complicated connections of neurons, and there are no longer advantages of displaying RNN as connections of neurons, and you would need to understand RNN in more abstract way, I mean, as you see in most of textbooks.

I am going to explain details of simple RNN in the next article of this series.

3, Neural Networks as Mappings

If you still think that neural networks are something like magical spider webs or models of brain tissues, forget that. They are just ordinary mappings.

If you have been allergic to mathematics in your life, you might have never heard of the word “mapping.” If so, at least please keep it in mind that the equation y=f(x), which most people would have seen in compulsory education, is a part of mapping. If you get a value x, you get a value y corresponding to the x.

But in case of deep learning, x is a vector or a tensor, and it is denoted in bold like \boldsymbol{x} . If you have never studied linear algebra , imagine that a vector is a column of Excel data (only one column), a matrix is a sheet of Excel data (with some rows and columns), and a tensor is some sheets of Excel data (each sheet does not necessarily contain only one column.)

CNNs are mainly used for image processing, so their inputs are usually image data. Image data are in many cases (3, hight, width) tensors because usually an image has red, blue, green channels, and the image in each channel can be expressed as a height*width matrix (the “height” and the “width” are number of pixels, so they are discrete numbers).

The convolutional part of CNN (which I call “feature extraction part”) maps the tensors to a vector, and the last part is usually DCL, which works as classifier/regressor. At the end of the feature extraction part, you get a vector. I call it a “semantic vector” because the vector has information of “meaning” of the input image. In this link you can see maps of pictures plotted depending on the semantic vector. You can see that even if the pictures are not necessarily close pixelwise, they are close in terms of the “meanings” of the images.

In the example of a dog/cat classifier introduced by François Chollet, the developer of Keras, the CNN maps (3, 150, 150) tensors to 2-dimensional vectors, (1, 0) or (0, 1) for (dog, cat).

Wrapping up the points above, at least you should keep two points in mind: first, DCL is a classifier or a regressor, and CNN is a feature extractor used for image processing. And another important thing is, feature extraction parts of CNNs map images to vectors which are more related to the “meaning” of the image.

Importantly, I would like you to understand RNN this way. An RNN is also just a mapping.

*I recommend you to at least take a look at the beautiful pictures in this link. These pictures give you some insight into how CNN perceive images.

4, Problems of DCL and CNN, and needs for RNN

Taking an example of RNN task should be helpful for this topic. Probably machine translation is the most famous application of RNN, and it is also a good example of showing why DCL and CNN are not proper for some tasks. Its algorithms is out of the scope of this article series, but it would give you a good insight of some features of RNN. I prepared three sentences in German, English, and Japanese, which have the same meaning. Assume that each sentence is divided into some parts as shown below and that each vector corresponds to each part. In machine translation we want to convert a set of the vectors into another set of vectors.

Then let’s see why DCL and CNN are not proper for such task.

  • The input size is fixed: In case of the dog/cat classifier I have mentioned, even though the sizes of the input images varies, they were first molded into (3, 150, 150) tensors. But in machine translation, usually the length of the input is supposed to be flexible.
  • The order of inputs does not mater: In case of the dog/cat classifier the last section, even if the input is “cat,” “cat,” “dog” or “dog,” “cat,” “cat” there’s no difference. And in case of DCL, the network is symmetric, so even if you shuffle inputs, as long as you shuffle all of the input data in the same way, the DCL give out the same outcome . And if you have learned at least one foreign language, it is easy to imagine that the orders of vectors in sequence data matter in machine translation.

*It is said English language has phrase structure grammar, on the other hand Japanese language has dependency grammar. In English, the orders of words are important, but in Japanese as long as the particles and conjugations are correct, the orders of words are very flexible. In my impression, German grammar is between them. As long as you put the verb at the second position and the cases of the words are correct, the orders are also relatively flexible.

5, Sequence Data

We can say DCL and CNN are not useful when you want to process sequence data. Sequence data are a type of data which are lists of vectors. And importantly, the orders of the vectors matter. The number of vectors in sequence data is usually called time steps. A simple example of sequence data is meteorological data measured at a spot every ten minutes, for instance temperature, air pressure, wind velocity, humidity. In this case the data is recorded as 4-dimensional vector every ten minutes.

But this “time step” does not necessarily mean “time.” In case of natural language processing (including machine translation), which you I mentioned in the last section, the numberings of each vector denoting each part of sentences are “time steps.”

And RNNs are mappings from a sequence data to another sequence data.

In case of the machine translation above, the each sentence in German, English, and German is expressed as sequence data \boldsymbol{G}=(\boldsymbol{g}_1,\dots ,\boldsymbol{g}_{12}), \boldsymbol{E}=(\boldsymbol{e}_1,\dots ,\boldsymbol{e}_{11}), \boldsymbol{J}=(\boldsymbol{j}_1,\dots ,\boldsymbol{j}_{14}), and machine translation is nothing but mappings between these sequence data.


*At least I found a paper on the RNN’s capability of universal approximation on many-to-one RNN task. But I have not found any papers on universal approximation of many-to-many RNN tasks. Please let me know if you find any clue on whether such approximation is possible. I am desperate to know that. 

6, Types of RNN Tasks

RNN tasks can be classified into some types depending on the lengths of input/output sequences (the “length” means the times steps of input/output sequence data).

If you want to predict the temperature in 24 hours, based on several time series data points in the last 96 hours, the task is many-to-one. If you sample data every ten minutes, the input size is 96*6=574 (the input data is a list of 574 vectors), and the output size is 1 (which is a value of temperature). Another example of many-to-one task is sentiment classification. If you want to judge whether a post on SNS is positive or negative, the input size is very flexible (the length of the post varies.) But the output size is one, which is (1, 0) or (0, 1), which denotes (positive, negative).

*The charts in this section are simplified model of RNN used for each task. Please keep it in mind that they are not 100% correct, but I tried to make them as exact as possible compared to those in other study materials.

Music/text generation can be one-to-many tasks. If you give the first sound/word you can generate a phrase.

Next, let’s look at many-to-many tasks. Machine translation and voice recognition are likely to be major examples of many-to-many tasks, but here name entity recognition seems to be a proper choice. Name entity recognition is task of finding proper noun in a sentence . For example if you got two sentences “He said, ‘Teddy bears on sale!’ ” and ‘He said, “Teddy Roosevelt was a great president!” ‘ judging whether the “Teddy” is a proper noun or a normal noun is name entity recognition.

Machine translation and voice recognition, which are more popular, are also many-to-many tasks, but they use more sophisticated models. In case of machine translation, the inputs are sentences in the original language, and the outputs are sentences in another language. When it comes to voice recognition, the input is data of air pressure at several time steps, and the output is the recognized word or sentence. Again, these are out of the scope of this article but I would like to introduce the models briefly.

Machine translation uses a type of RNN named sequence-to-sequence model (which is often called seq2seq model). This model is also very important for other natural language processes tasks in general, such as text summarization. A seq2seq model is divided into the encoder part and the decoder part. The encoder gives out a hidden state vector and it used as the input of the decoder part. And decoder part generates texts, using the output of the last time step as the input of next time step.

Voice recognition is also a famous application of RNN, but it also needs a special type of RNN.

*To be honest, I don’t know what is the state-of-the-art voice recognition algorithm. The example in this article is a combination of RNN and a collapsing function made using Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC). In this model, the output of RNN is much longer than the recorded words or sentences, so a collapsing function reduces the output into next output with normal length.

You might have noticed that RNNs in the charts above are connected in both directions. Depending on the RNN tasks you need such bidirectional RNNs.  I think it is also easy to imagine that such networks are necessary. Again, machine translation is a good example.

And interestingly, image captioning, which enables a computer to describe a picture, is one-to-many-task. As the output is a sentence, it is easy to imagine that the output is “many.” If it is a one-to-many task, the input is supposed to be a vector.

Where does the input come from? I mentioned that the last some layers in of CNN are closely connected to how CNNs extract meanings of pictures. Surprisingly such vectors, which I call a “semantic vectors” is the inputs of image captioning task (after some transformations, depending on the network models).

I think this articles includes major things you need to know as prerequisites when you want to understand RNN at more mathematical level. In the next article, I would like to explain the structure of a simple RNN, and how it forward propagate.

* I make study materials on machine learning, sponsored by DATANOMIQ. I do my best to make my content as straightforward but as precise as possible. I include all of my reference sources. If you notice any mistakes in my materials, please let me know (email: And if you have any advice for making my materials more understandable to learners, I would appreciate hearing it.

Wie funktioniert Natural Language Processing in der Praxis? Ein Überblick

Natural Language Processing (NLP,auf Deutsch auch als Computerlinguistik bezeichnet) gilt als ein Teilbereich des Machine Learning und der Sprachwissenschaften.

Beim NLP geht es vom Prinzip um das Extrahieren und Verarbeiten von Informationen, die in den natürlichen Sprachen enthalten sind. Im Rahmen von NLP wird die natürliche Sprache durch den Rechner in Zahlenabfolgen umgewandelt. Diese Zahlenabfolgen kann wiederum der Rechner benutzen, um Rückschlüsse auf unsere Welt zu ziehen. Kurz gesagt erlaubt NLP dem Computer unsere Sprache in ihren verschiedenen Formen zu verarbeiten. 

Eine ausführlichere Definition von NLP wurde auf dem Data Science Blog von Christopher Kipp vorgenommen. 

In diesem Beitrag werde ich dagegen einen Überblick über die spezifischen Schritte im NLP als Prozess darstellen, denn NLP erfolgt in mehreren Phasen, die aufeinander Folgen und zum Teil als Kreislauf verstanden werden können. In ihren Grundlagen ähneln sich diese Phasen bei jeder NLP-Anwendung, sei es Chatbot Erstellung oder Sentiment Analyse.

1. Datenreinigung / Normalisierung 

In dieser Phase werden die rohen Sprachdaten aus ihrem ursprünglichen Format entnommen, sodass am Ende nur reine Textdaten ohne Format erhalten bleiben. 

Beispielsweise können die Textdaten für unsere Analyse aus Webseiten stammen und nach ihrer Erhebung in HTML Code eingebettet sein.

Das Bild zeigt eine Beispielseite. Der Text hier ist noch in einen HTML Kontext eingebettet. Der erste Schritt muss daher sein, den Text von den diversen HTML-Tags zu bereinigen. 


2. Tokenisierung und Normalisierung (Tokenizing and Normalizing) 

Nach dem ersten Schritt steht als Ergebnis idealerweise reiner Text da, der aber auch Sprachelemente wie Punkte, Kommata sowie Groß- und Kleinschreibung beinhaltet. 

Hier kommt der nächste Schritt ins Spiel – die Entfernung der Interpunktion vom Text. Der Text wird auf diese Weise auf seine Wort-Bestandteile (sog. Tokens) reduziert. 

Zusätzlich zu diesem Schritt kann auch Groß- und Kleinschreibung entfernt werden (Normalisierung). Dies spart vor allem die Rechenkapazität. 

So wird aus folgendem Abschnitt:

Auf diese Weise können wir die Daten aggregieren und in Subsets analysieren. Wir müssen nicht immer das ganze Machine Learning in Hadoop und Spark auf dem gesamten Datensatz starten.

folgender Text 

auf diese weise können wir die daten aggregieren und in subsets analysieren wir müssen nicht immer das ganze machine learning in hadoop und spark auf dem gesamten datensatz starten


3. Füllwörterentfernung / Stop words removal 

Im nächsten Schritt entfernen wir die sogenannten Füllwörter wie „und“, „sowie“, „etc.“. In den entsprechenden Python Bibliotheken sind die gängigen Füllwörter bereits gespeichert und können leicht entfernt werden. Trotzdem ist hier Vorsicht geboten. Die Bedeutung der Füllwörter in einer Sprache verändert sich je nach Kontext. Aus diesem Grund ist dieser Schritt optional und die zu entfernenden Füllwörter müssen kontextabhängig ausgewählt werden. 

Nach diesem Schritt bleibt dann in unserem Beispiel folgender Text erhalten: 

können daten aggregieren subsets analysieren müssen nicht immer machine learning hadoop spark datensatz starten


4. Pats of speech (POS) 
Als weiterer Schritt können die Wörter mit ihrer korrekten Wortart markiert werden. Der Rechner markiert sie entsprechend als Verben, Nomen, Adjektive etc. Dieser Schritt könnte für manche Fälle der Grundformreduktion/Lemmatization notwendig sein (dazu sogleich unten).


5. Stemming und Lemmatization/Grundformreduktion

In weiteren Schritten kann weiter das sogenannte Stemming und Lemmatization folgen. Vom Prinzip werden hier die einzelnen Wörter in ihre Grundform bzw. Wörterbuchform gebracht. 

Im Fall von Stemming werden die Wörter am Ende einfach abgeschnitten und auf den Wortstamm reduziert. So wäre zum Beispiel das Verb „gehen“, „geht“ auf die Form „geh“ reduziert. 

Im Fall der Lemmatization bzw. Grundformreduktion werden die Wörter in ihre ursprüngliche Wörterbuchform gebracht: das Verb „geht“ wäre dann ins „gehen“ transformiert. 

Parts of Speech, Stemming als auch Lemmatising sind vorteilhaft für die Komplexitätsreduktion. Sie führen deswegen zu mehr Effizienz und schnellerer Anwendbarkeit. Dies geschieht allerdings auf Kosten der Präzision. Die auf diese Weise erstellten Listen können dann im Fall einer Suchmaschine weniger relevante Ergebnisse liefern.

Nachfolgende Schritte beim NLP transformieren den Text in mathematische Zahlenfolgen, die der Rechner verstehen kann. Wie wir in diesem Schritt vorgehen, hängt stark davon ab, was das eigentliche Ziel des Projektes sei. Es gibt ein breites Angebot an Python Paketen, die die Zahlenbildung je nach Projektziel unterschiedlich gestalten


6a. Bag of Words Methoden in Python (

Zu den Bag of Words Methoden in Python gehört das sogenannte TF-IDF Vectorizer. Die Transformationsmethode mit dem TF-IDF eignet sich beispielsweise zum Bau eines Spamdetektors, da der TF-IDF Vectorizer die Wörter im Kontext des Gesamtdokumentes betrachtet.


6b. Word Embeddings Methoden in Python: Word2Vec, GloVe (

Wie der Name bereits sagt transformiert Word2Vec die einzelnen Wörter zu Vektoren (Zahlenfolgen). Dabei werden ähnliche Wörter zu ähnlichen Vektoren transformiert. Die Methoden aus der Word Embeddings Kiste eignen sich zum Beispiel besser, um einen Chatbot zu erstellen. 

Im letzten Schritt des NLP können wir die so prozessierte Sprache in die gängigen Machine Learning Modelle einspeisen. Das Beste an den oben erwähnten NLP Techniken ist die Transformation der Sprache in Zahlensequenzen, die durch jeden ML Algorithmus analysiert werden können. Die weitere Vorgehensweise hängt hier nur noch vom Ziel des Projektes ab. 

Dies ist ein Überblick über die notwendigen (und optionalen) Schritte in einem NLP Verfahren. Natürlich hängt die Anwendung vom jeweiligen Use Case ab. Die hier beschriebenen NLP Phasen nehmen viele Ungenauigkeiten in Kauf, wie zum Beispiel die Reduzierung der Wörter auf Wortstämmen bzw. den Verzicht auf Großschreibung. Bei der Umsetzung in der Praxis müssen immer Kosten und Nutzen abgewogen werden und das Verfahren dem besonderen Fall angepasst werden. 

  • Mandy Gu: „Spam or Ham: Introduction to Natural Language Processing Part 2“
  • Christopher D. Manning, Prabhakar Raghavan & Hinrich Schütze: „Introduction to Information Retrieval”, Cambridge University Press,
  • Hobson Lane, Cole Howard, Hannes Max Hapke: „Natural Language Processing in Action. Understanding, analyzing, and generating text with Python.” Manning Shelter Island

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

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.

Einstieg in Natural Language Processing – Teil 1: Natürliche vs. Formale Sprachen

Dies ist Artikel 1 von 4 der Artikelserie Einstieg in Natural Language Processing – Artikelserie.

Versuche und erste Ansätze, Maschinen beizubringen menschliche Sprache zu verstehen, gibt es bereits seit den 50er Jahren. Trotz der jahrzehntelangen Forschung und Entwicklung gelingt dies bis heute nicht umfassend. Woran liegt dies?

Um diese Frage zu beantworten, hilft es, sich die Unterschiede zwischen „natürlichen“, also sich selbstständig entwickelnden, typischerweise von Menschen gesprochenen Sprachen und den von Computern interpretieren formalen Sprachen klar zu machen. Formale Sprachen, wie zum Beispiel Python zum Ausführen der Codebeispiele in dieser Artikelserie, HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) zur Darstellung von Webseiten und andere typische Programmier- und Skriptsprachen, sind üblicherweise sehr streng strukturiert.

Alle diese Sprachen weisen eine Reihe von Gemeinsamkeiten auf, welche es Computern einfach machen, sie korrekt zu interpretieren (also den Informationsinhalt zu “verstehen”). Das vermutlich auffälligste Merkmal formaler Sprachen ist eine relativ strikte Syntax, welche (wenn überhaupt) nur geringe Abweichungen von einem Standard erlaubt. Wie penibel die jeweilige Syntax oft einzuhalten ist, wird am ehesten deutlich, wenn diese verletzt wird:

Solche so genannten “Syntax Error”  gehören daher zu den häufigsten Fehlern beim Schreiben von Quellcode.

Ganz anders dagegen sieht es in der Kommunikation mit natürlichen Sprachen aus. Zwar fördert falsche Komma-Setzung in der Regel nicht die Leserlichkeit eines Textes, jedoch bleibt dieser in der Regel trotzdem verständlich. Auch macht es keinen Unterschied ob ich sage „Es ist heiß heute.“ oder „Heute ist es heiß.“. Genau wie in der deutschen Sprache funktioniert dieses Beispiel auch im Englischen sowie in anderen natürlichen Sprachen. Insbesondere Spanisch ist ein Beispiel für eine Sprache mit extrem variabler Satzstellung. Jedoch kann in anderen Fällen eine andere Reihenfolge der selben Worte deren Bedeutung auch verändern. So ist „Ist es heute heiß?“ ganz klar eine Frage, obwohl exakt die selben Worte wie in den Beispielsätzen oben vorkommen.

Ein weiterer wichtiger, hiermit verwandter Unterschied ist, dass es bei formalen Sprachen in der Regel einen Ausdruck gibt, welcher eine spezifische Bedeutung besitzt, während es in natürlichen Sprachen oft viele Synonyme gibt, die ein und dieselbe Sache (oder zumindest etwas sehr ähnliches) ausdrücken. Ein wahrer boolscher Wert wird in Python als

geschrieben. Es gibt keine andere Möglichkeit, diesen Wert auszudrücken (zumindest nicht ohne irgend eine Art von Operatoren wie das Doppelgleichheitszeichen zu benutzen und damit z. B. “0 == 0” zu schreiben).  Anders hingegen zum Beispiel in der Deutschen Sprache: Wahr, richtig, korrekt, stimmt, ja,

Um einen Vorstellung davon zu bekommen, wie verbreitet Synonyme in natürlichen Sprachen sind, lässt sich die Internetseite verwenden. Beispielshalber findet man dutzende Synonyme für das Wort „schnell“ hier:

Eine weitere große Schwierigkeit, welche in den meisten natürlichen Sprachen und nahezu allen Arten von Texten zu finden ist, stellen verschiedene grammatikalische Formen eines Wortes dar. So sind die Worte bin, wäre, sind, waren, wirst, werden… alles Konjugationen desselben Verbs, nämlich sein. Eine durchaus beeindruckende Übersicht über die verwirrende Vielfalt von Konjugationen dieses kleinen Wörtchens, findet sich unter:

Dieses Problem wird um so schwerwiegender, da viele Verben, insbesondere die am häufigsten genutzten, sehr unregelmäßige Konjugationsformen besitzen und damit keiner generellen Regel folgen. Daher ist computerintern oft ein Mapping für jede mögliche Konjugationsform bei vielen Verben die einzige Möglichkeit, an die Grundform zu kommen (mehr dazu in Teil 3 dieser Artikelserie).

Die Liste der sprachlichen Schwierigkeiten beim computergestützten Auswerten natürlicher Sprache ließe sich an diesem Punkt noch beliebig weiter fortsetzen:

  • Rechtschreibfehler
  • falsche Grammatik
  • Smileys
  • der „Substantivverkettungswahn“ im Deutschen
  • mehrdeutige Worte und Abkürzungen
  • abwegige Redewendungen (z. B. “ins Gras beißen”)
  • Ironie
  • und, und, und …

Ob und welche Rolle jede dieser Schwierigkeiten im einzelnen spielt, hängt natürlich sehr stark von den jeweiligen Texten ab und kann nicht pauschalisiert werden – ein typischer Chatverlauf wird ganz andere Probleme bereithalten als ein Wikipedia-Artikel. Wie man einige dieser Probleme in der Praxis vereinfachen oder sogar lösen kann und welche Ansätze und Methoden zur Verfügung stehen und regelmäßig zur Anwendung kommen wird im nächsten Teil dieser Artikelserie an praktischen Codebeispielen genauer unter die Lupe genommen.

NLTK vs. Spacy – Eine kurze Übersicht

Möchte man einen (oder auch einige) Text(e) mit den Methoden des natural language processings untersuchen um die darin verwendete Sprache auswerten oder nach bestimmten Informationen suchen, so sind insbesondere die Pakete NLTK und spaCy zu empfehlen (bei sehr vielen Texten sieht das schon wieder anders aus und wird am Ende der Artikelserie mit dem Paket gensim vorgestellt); beide bieten eine unglaubliche Vielzahl von Analysemöglichkeiten, vorgefertigten Wortsets, vortrainierte Stemmer und Lemmatiser, POS Tagger und, und, und…

Ist man vor allem an den Ergebnissen der Analyse selbst interessiert, so bietet sich spaCy an, da hier bereits mit wenigen Zeilen Code viele interessante Informationen generiert werden können.

Wer dagegen gerne selber bastelt oder wissen möchte wie die einzelnen Tools und Teilschritte genau funktionieren oder sich seine eigenen Stemmer, Tagger ect. trainieren will, ist vermutlich mit NLTK besser beraten. Zwar ist hier oft mehr Quellcode für das gleiche Ergebnis notwendig, allerdings kann das Preprocessing der Texte hierbei relativ einfach exakt den eigenen Vorstellungen angepasst werden. Zudem bietet NLTK eine Vielzahl von Beispieltexten und bereits fertig getagte Daten, mit welchen eigene Tagger trainiert und getestet werden können.

Einstieg in Natural Language Processing – Artikelserie

Unter Natural Language Processing (NLP) versteht man ein Teilgebiet der Informatik bzw. der Datenwissenschaft, welches sich mit der Analyse und Auswertung , aber auch der Synthese natürlicher Sprache befasst. Mit natürlichen Sprachen werden Sprachen wie zum Beispiel Deutsch, Englisch oder Spanisch bezeichnet, welche nicht geplant entworfen wurden, sondern sich über lange Zeit allein durch ihre Benutzung entwickelt haben. Anders ausgedrückt geht es um die Schnittstelle zwischen unserer im Alltag verwendeten und für uns Menschen verständlichen Sprache auf der einen, und um deren computergestützte Auswertung auf der anderen Seite.

Diese Artikelserie soll eine Einführung in die Thematik des Natural Language Processing sein, dessen Methoden, Möglichkeiten, aber auch der Grenzen . Im einzelnen werden folgende Themen näher behandelt:

1. Artikel – Natürliche vs. Formale Sprachen
2. Artikel – Preprocessing von Rohtext mit Python
3. Artikel – Möglichkeiten/Methoden der Textanalyse an Beispielen (erscheint demnächst…)
4. Artikel – NLP, was kann es? Und was nicht? (erscheint demnächst…)

Zur Verdeutlichung der beschriebenen Zusammenhänge und Methoden und um Interessierten einige Ideen für mögliche Startpunkte aufzuzeigen, werden im Verlauf der Artikelserie an verschiedenen Stellen Codebeispiele in der Programmiersprache Python vorgestellt.
Von den vielen im Internet zur Verfügung stehenden Python-Paketen zum Thema NLP, werden in diesem Artikel insbesondere die drei Pakete NLTK, Gensim und Spacy verwendet.