You Say “Concepts” I Say “Subjects”

Researchers are cracking text analysis one dataset at a time by Derrick Harris.

From the post:

Google on Monday released the latest in a string of text datasets designed to make it easier for people outside its hallowed walls to build applications that can make sense of all the words surrounding them.

As explained in a blog post, the company analyzed the New York Times Annotated Corpus — a collection of millions of articles spanning 20 years, tagged for properties such as people, places and things mentioned — and created a dataset that ranks the salience (or relative importance) of every name mentioned in each one of those articles.

Essentially, the goal with the dataset is to give researchers a base understanding of which entities are important within particular pieces of content, an understanding that should then be complemented with background data sources that will provide even more information. So while the number of times a person or company is mentioned in an article can be a very strong sign of which words are important — especially when compared to the usual mention count for that word, one of the early methods for ranking search results — a more telling method of ranking importance would also leverage existing knowledge of broader concepts to capture important words that don’t stand out from a volume perspective.

A summary of some of the recent work on recognizing concepts in text and not just key words.

As topic mappers know, there is no universal one to one correspondence between words and subjects (“concepts” in this article). Finding “concepts” means that whatever words triggered that recognition, we can supply other information that is known about the same concept.

Certainly will make topic map authoring easier when text analytics can generate occurrence data and decorate existing topic maps with their findings.

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