Short Text Categorization using Deep Neural Networks and Word-Embedding Models

There are situations that we deal with short text, probably messy, without a lot of training data. In that case, we need external semantic information. Instead of using the conventional bag-of-words (BOW) model, we should employ word-embedding models, such as Word2Vec, GloVe etc.

Suppose we want to perform supervised learning, with three subjects, described by the following Python dictionary:

classdict={'mathematics': ['linear algebra',
           'variational calculus',
           'functional field',
           'real analysis',
           'complex analysis',
           'differential equation',
           'statistical optimization',
           'stochastic calculus',
           'numerical analysis',
           'differential geometry'],
          'physics': ['renormalization',
           'classical mechanics',
           'quantum mechanics',
           'statistical mechanics',
           'functional field',
           'path integral',
           'quantum field theory',
           'condensed matter',
           'particle physics',
           'topological solitons',
           'spontaneous symmetry breaking',
           'atomic molecular and optical physics',
           'quantum chaos'],
          'theology': ['divine providence',
           'Holy Trinity',
           'divine degree',
           'creedal confessionalism',

And we implemented Word2Vec here. To add external information, we use a pre-trained Word2Vec model from Google, downloaded here. We can use it with Python package gensim. To load it, enter

from gensim.models import Word2Vec
wvmodel = Word2Vec.load_word2vec_format('<path-to>/GoogleNews-vectors-negative300.bin.gz', binary=True)

How do we represent a phrase in Word2Vec? How do we do the classification? Here I wrote two classes to do it.


We can represent a sentence by summing the word-embedding representations of each word. The class, inside, is coded as follow:

from collections import defaultdict

import numpy as np
from nltk import word_tokenize
from scipy.spatial.distance import cosine

from utils import ModelNotTrainedException

class SumEmbeddedVecClassifier:
    def __init__(self, wvmodel, classdict, vecsize=300):
        self.wvmodel = wvmodel
        self.classdict = classdict
        self.vecsize = vecsize
        self.trained = False

    def train(self):
        self.addvec = defaultdict(lambda : np.zeros(self.vecsize))
        for classtype in self.classdict:
            for shorttext in self.classdict[classtype]:
                self.addvec[classtype] += self.shorttext_to_embedvec(shorttext)
            self.addvec[classtype] /= np.linalg.norm(self.addvec[classtype])
        self.addvec = dict(self.addvec)
        self.trained = True

    def shorttext_to_embedvec(self, shorttext):
        vec = np.zeros(self.vecsize)
        tokens = word_tokenize(shorttext)
        for token in tokens:
            if token in self.wvmodel:
                vec += self.wvmodel[token]
        norm = np.linalg.norm(vec)
        if norm!=0:
            vec /= np.linalg.norm(vec)
        return vec

    def score(self, shorttext):
        if not self.trained:
            raise ModelNotTrainedException()
        vec = self.shorttext_to_embedvec(shorttext)
        scoredict = {}
        for classtype in self.addvec:
                scoredict[classtype] = 1 - cosine(vec, self.addvec[classtype])
            except ValueError:
                scoredict[classtype] = np.nan
        return scoredict

Here the exception ModelNotTrainedException is just an exception raised if the model has not been trained yet, but scoring function was called by the user. (Codes listed in my Github repository.) The similarity will be calculated by cosine similarity.

Such an implementation is easy to understand and carry out. It is good enough for a lot of application. However, it has the problem that it does not take the relation between words or word order into account.

Convolutional Neural Network

To tackle the problem of word relations, we have to use deeper neural networks. Yoon Kim published a well cited paper regarding this in EMNLP in 2014, titled “Convolutional Neural Networks for Sentence Classification.” The model architecture is as follow: (taken from his paper)


Each word is represented by an embedded vector, but neighboring words are related through the convolutional matrix. And MaxPooling and a dense neural network were implemented afterwards. His paper involves multiple filters with variable window sizes / spatial extent, but for our cases of short phrases, I just use one window of size 2 (similar to dealing with bigram). While Kim implemented using Theano (see his Github repository), I implemented using keras with Theano backend. The codes, inside, are as follow:

import numpy as np
from keras.layers import Convolution1D, MaxPooling1D, Flatten, Dense
from keras.models import Sequential
from nltk import word_tokenize

from utils import ModelNotTrainedException

class CNNEmbeddedVecClassifier:
    def __init__(self,
        self.wvmodel = wvmodel
        self.classdict = classdict
        self.n_gram = n_gram
        self.vecsize = vecsize
        self.nb_filters = nb_filters
        self.maxlen = maxlen
        self.trained = False

    def convert_trainingdata_matrix(self):
        classlabels = self.classdict.keys()
        lblidx_dict = dict(zip(classlabels, range(len(classlabels))))

        # tokenize the words, and determine the word length
        phrases = []
        indices = []
        for label in classlabels:
            for shorttext in self.classdict[label]:
                category_bucket = [0]*len(classlabels)
                category_bucket[lblidx_dict[label]] = 1

        # store embedded vectors
        train_embedvec = np.zeros(shape=(len(phrases), self.maxlen, self.vecsize))
        for i in range(len(phrases)):
            for j in range(min(self.maxlen, len(phrases[i]))):
                train_embedvec[i, j] = self.word_to_embedvec(phrases[i][j])
        indices = np.array(indices,

        return classlabels, train_embedvec, indices

    def train(self):
        # convert classdict to training input vectors
        self.classlabels, train_embedvec, indices = self.convert_trainingdata_matrix()

        # build the deep neural network model
        model = Sequential()
                                input_shape=(self.maxlen, self.vecsize)))
        model.add(Dense(len(self.classlabels), activation='softmax'))
        model.compile(loss='categorical_crossentropy', optimizer='rmsprop')

        # train the model, indices)

        # flag switch
        self.model = model
        self.trained = True

    def word_to_embedvec(self, word):
        return self.wvmodel[word] if word in self.wvmodel else np.zeros(self.vecsize)

    def shorttext_to_matrix(self, shorttext):
        tokens = word_tokenize(shorttext)
        matrix = np.zeros((self.maxlen, self.vecsize))
        for i in range(min(self.maxlen, len(tokens))):
            matrix[i] = self.word_to_embedvec(tokens[i])
        return matrix

    def score(self, shorttext):
        if not self.trained:
            raise ModelNotTrainedException()

        # retrieve vector
        matrix = np.array([self.shorttext_to_matrix(shorttext)])

        # classification using the neural network
        predictions = self.model.predict(matrix)

        # wrangle output result
        scoredict = {}
        for idx, classlabel in zip(range(len(self.classlabels)), self.classlabels):
            scoredict[classlabel] = predictions[0][idx]
        return scoredict

The output is a vector of length equal to the number of class labels, 3 in our example. The elements of the output vector add up to one, indicating its score, and a nature of probability.


A simple cross-validation to the example data set does not tell a difference between the two algorithms:


However, we can test the algorithm with a few examples:

Example 1: “renormalization”

  • Average: {‘mathematics’: 0.54135105096749336, ‘physics’: 0.63665460856632494, ‘theology’: 0.31014049736087901}
  • CNN: {‘mathematics’: 0.093827009201049805, ‘physics’: 0.85451591014862061, ‘theology’: 0.051657050848007202}

As renormalization was a strong word in the training data, it gives an easy result. CNN can distinguish much more clearly.

Example 2: “salvation”

  • Average: {‘mathematics’: 0.14939650156482298, ‘physics’: 0.21692765541184023, ‘theology’: 0.5698233329716329}
  • CNN: {‘mathematics’: 0.012395491823554039, ‘physics’: 0.022725773975253105, ‘theology’: 0.96487873792648315}

“Salvation” is not found in the training data, but it is closely related to “soteriology,” which means the doctrine of salvation. So it correctly identifies it with theology.

Example 3: “coffee”

  • Average: {‘mathematics’: 0.096820211601723272, ‘physics’: 0.081567332119268032, ‘theology’: 0.15962682945135631}
  • CNN: {‘mathematics’: 0.27321341633796692, ‘physics’: 0.1950736939907074, ‘theology’: 0.53171288967132568}

Coffee is not related to all subjects. The first architecture correctly indicates the fact, but CNN, with its probabilistic nature, has to roughly equally distribute it (but not so well.)

The code can be found in my Github repository: stephenhky/PyShortTextCategorization. (This repository has been updated since this article was published. The link shows the version of the code when this appeared online.)

  • Kwan-Yuet Ho, “Word-Embedding Algorithms,” Everything About Data Analytics, WordPress (2016). [WordPress]
  • Google Code: Word2Vec. [Google Code]
  • gensim: topic modeling for human. [link]
  • Github: stephenhky/PyShortTextCategorization. (Oct 12, 2016) [Github]
  • Yoon Kim, “Convolutional Neural Networks for Sentence Classification,” EMNLP 2014, 1746-1751. (arXiv:1408.5882) [arXiv]
  • “cs231n: Convolutional Neural Networks for Visual Recognition: Architeture Overview,” Stanford University. [link]
  • keras: deep learning library for Theano and Tensorflow. [link]
  • Github: yoonkim/CNN_sentence. [Github]
  • Kwan-Yuet Ho, “Probabilistic Theory of Word Embeddings: GloVe,” Everything About Data Analytics, WordPress (2016). [WordPress]
  • Kwan-Yuet Ho, “Toying with Word2Vec,” Everything About Data Analytics, WordPress (2015). [WordPress]
  • Radim Řehůřek, “Making sense of word2vec,” RaRe Technologies (2014). [link]
  • Wikipedia: Convolutional Neural Network. [Wikipedia]

12 thoughts on “Short Text Categorization using Deep Neural Networks and Word-Embedding Models

  1. When I try to implement it I got the following error:

    Using TensorFlow backend.
    /usr/local/lib/python3.5/dist-packages/pandas/core/computation/ UserWarning: The installed version of numexpr 2.4.3 is not supported in pandas and will be not be used
    The minimum supported version is 2.4.6

    ver=ver, min_ver=_MIN_NUMEXPR_VERSION), UserWarning)
    File “/usr/local/lib/python3.5/dist-packages/stemming/”, line 176
    print stem(“fundamentally”)
    SyntaxError: invalid syntax


    1. To improve the accuracy of the classification, there are a few ways:

      1. a better-fit pre-processing, which fits to your works case;
      2. more training data;
      3. some case you may want to train your own embedding model.


  2. Only wanna remark on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the written content is real superb. “The reason there are two senators for each state is so that one can be the designated driver.” by Jay Leno.


  3. Good work.
    1. Does it really deep neural network? what I see is only 3 layers.
    2. How about dropout rate & l2 constraint ?
    3. Why you set number of filter =1200?


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