SHANTI at the University of Virginia

IATH Speaker: Raf Alvarado

October 31st, 2017

How to Read a Topic Model

Rafael Alvarado, Data Science Institute
Friday, November 3, 2017
1:30-2:30pm
Alderman 317

Since the invention of LDA in 2002 (Blei, Ng, and Jordan), topic models have become a mainstay of digital humanities and text analytic research. However, the use of topic models remains narrowly conceived, and the method continues to raise epistemological concerns. In this presentation, Prof. Alvarado will demonstrate an interactive topic model browser designed to address one of these concerns, the problem of topic reference. Do topics refer to anything in the world, such as collective representations, or do they merely provide a convenient means of dimensionality reduction for users of large text databases? Drawing from various corpora, including online newspapers of various nationalist movements, he will present some conclusions on how to make sense of topics and how we might integrate these models into scholarly arguments.

Sponsored by IATH

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