[O’R]BigDataFR recommends: The O’Reilly Data Show Podcast – David Blei

BigDataFR recommends: The O’Reilly Data Show Podcast – David Blei

The O’Reilly Data Show Podcast: David Blei, co-creator of one of the most popular tools in text mining and machine learning

Ben Lorica, Chief Data Scientist and Director of Content Strategy for Data at O’Reilly Media, Inc: ‘I don’t remember when I first came across topic models, but I do remember being an early proponent of them in industry. I came to appreciate how useful they were for exploring and navigating large amounts of unstructured text, and was able to use them, with some success, in consulting projects. When an MCMC algorithm came out, I even cooked up a Java program that I came to rely on (up until Mallet came along).

I recently sat down with David Blei, co-author of the seminal paper on topic models, and who remains one of the leading researchers in the field. We talked about the origins of topic models, their applications, improvements to the underlying algorithms, and his new role in training data scientists at Columbia University.
Generating features for other machine learning tasks

Blei frequently interacts with companies that use ideas from his group’s research projects. He noted that people in industry frequently use topic models for “feature generation.” The added bonus is that topic models produce features that are easy to explain and interpret:

“You might analyze a bunch of New York Times articles for example, and there’ll be an article about sports and business, and you get a representation of that article that says this is an article and it’s about sports and business. Of course, the ideas of sports and business were also discovered by the algorithm, but that representation, it turns out, is also useful for prediction. My understanding when I speak to people at different startup companies and other more established companies is that a lot of technology companies are using topic modeling to generate this representation of documents in terms of the discovered topics, and then using that representation in other algorithms for things like classification or other things.”’

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Ben Lorica, Chief Data Scientist & Director of Content Strategy for Data at O’Reilly Media, Inc
Source: radaroreilly.com

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