One fascinating application of deep learning is the training of a model that outputs vectors representing words. A project written in Google, named Word2Vec, is one of the best tools regarding this. The vector representation captures the word contexts and relationships among words. This tool has been changing the landscape of natural language processing (NLP).

Let’s have some demonstration. To use Word2Vec in Python, you need to have the package gensim installed. (Installation instruction: here) And you have to download a trained model (GoogleNews-vectors-negative300.bin.gz), which is 3.6 GB big!! When you get into a Python shell (e.g., IPython), type

from gensim.models.word2vec import Word2Vec


This model enables the user to extract vector representation of length 300 of an English word. So what is so special about this vector representation from the traditional bag-of-words representation? First, the representation is standard. Once trained, we can use it in future training or testing dataset. Second, it captures the context of the word in a way that the algebraic operation of these vectors has meanings.

Here I give 5 examples.

A Juvenile Cat

What is a juvenile cat? We know that a juvenile dog is a puppy. Then we can get it by carry out the algebraic calculation $\text{puppy} - \text{dog} + \text{cat}$ by running

model.most_similar(positive=['puppy', 'cat'], negative=['dog'], topn=5)


This outputs:

[(u'kitten', 0.7634989619255066),
(u'puppies', 0.7110899686813354),
(u'pup', 0.6929495334625244),
(u'kittens', 0.6888389587402344),
(u'cats', 0.6796488761901855)]


which indicates that “kitten” is the answer (correctly!) The numbers are similarities of these words with the vector representation  $\text{puppy} - \text{dog} + \text{cat}$ in descending order. You can verify it by calculating the cosine distance:

from scipy.spatial import distance
print (1-distance.cosine(model['kitten'], model['puppy']+model['cat']-model['dog']))


which outputs 0.763498957413.

This demonstration shows that in the model, $\text{puppy}-\text{dog}$ and $\text{kitten}-\text{cat}$ are of similar semantic relations.

Capital of Taiwan

Where is the capital of Taiwan? We can find it if we know the capital of another country. For example, we know that Beijing is the capital of China. Then we can run the following:

model.most_similar(positive=['Beijing', 'Taiwan'], negative=['China'], topn=5)


which outputs

[(u'Taipei', 0.7866502404212952),
(u'Taiwanese', 0.6805002093315125),
(u'Kaohsiung', 0.6034111976623535),
(u'Chen', 0.5905819535255432),
(u'Seoul', 0.5865181684494019)]


Obviously, the answer is “Taipei.” And interestingly, the model sees Taiwan in the same footing of China!

Taipei (taken from Airasia: http://www.airasia.com/mo/en/destinations/taipei.page)

Past Participle of “eat”

We can extract grammatical information too. We know that the past participle of “go” is “gone”. With this, we can find that of “eat” by running:

model.most_similar(positive=[‘gone’, ‘eat’], negative=[‘go’], topn=5)

which outputs:

[(u'eaten', 0.7462186217308044),
(u'eating', 0.6516293287277222),
(u'ate', 0.6457351446151733),
(u'overeaten', 0.5853317975997925),
(u'eats', 0.5830586552619934)]


Capital of the State of Maryland

However, this model does not always work. If it can find the capital of Taiwan, can it find those for any states in the United States? We know that the capital of California is Sacramento. How about Maryland? Let’s run:

model.most_similar(positive=['Sacramento', 'Maryland'], negative=['California'], topn=5)


[(u'Towson', 0.7032245397567749),
(u'Baltimore', 0.6951349973678589),
(u'Hagerstown', 0.6367553472518921),
(u'Anne_Arundel', 0.5931429266929626),
(u'Oxon_Hill', 0.5879474878311157)]


But the correct answer should be Annapolis!

Downtown Annapolis (taken from Wikipedia)

Word2Vec was developed by Tomáš Mikolov. He previously worked for Microsoft Research. However, he switched to Google, and published a few influential works on Word2Vec. [Mikolov, Yih, Zweig 2013] [Mikolov, Sutskever, Chen, Corrado, Dean 2013] [Mikolov, Chen, Corrado, Dean 2013] Their conference paper in 2013 can be found on arXiv. He later published a follow-up work on a package called Doc2Vec that considers phrases. [Le, Mikolov 2014]

Earlier this year, I listened to a talk in DCNLP meetup spoken by Michael Czerny on his award-winning blog entry titled “Modern Methods for Sentiment Analysis.” He applied the vector representations of words by Word2Vec to perform sentiment analysis, assuming that similar sentiments cluster together in the vector space. (He took averages of the vectors in tweets to extract emotions.) [Czerny 2015] I highly recommend you to read his blog entry. On the other hand, Xin Rong wrote an explanation about how Word2Vec works too. [Rong 2014]

There seems to be no progress on the project Word2Vec anymore as Tomáš Mikolov no longer works in Google. However, the Stanford NLP Group recognized that Word2Vec captures the relations between words in their vector representation. They worked on a similar project, called GloVe (Global Vectors), which tackles the problem with matrix factorization. [Pennington, Socher, Manning 2014] Radim Řehůřek did some analysis comparing Word2Vec and GloVe. [Řehůřek 2014] GloVe can be implemented in Python too.

On October 14, 2015, I attended the regular meeting of the DCNLP meetup group, a group on natural language processing (NLP) in Washington, DC area. The talk was titled “Deep Learning for Question Answering“, spoken by Mr. Mohit Iyyer, a Ph.D. student in Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland (my alma mater!). He is a very good speaker.

I have no experience on deep learning at all although I did write a blog post remotely related. I even didn’t start training my first neural network until the next day after the talk. However, Mr. Iyyer explained what recurrent neural network (RNN), recursive neural network, and deep averaging network (DAN) are. This helped me a lot in order to understanding more about the principles of the famous word2vec model (which is something I am going to write about soon!). You can refer to his slides for more details. There are really a lot of talents in College Park, like another expert, Joe Yue Hei Ng, who is exploiting deep learning a lot as well.

The applications are awesome: with external knowledge to factual question answering, reasoning-based question answering, and visual question answering, with increasing order of challenging levels.

Mr. Iyyer and the participants discussed a lot about different packages. Mr. Iyyer uses Theano, a Python package for deep learning, which is good for model building and other analytical work. Some prefer Caffe. Some people, who are Java developers, also use deeplearning4j.

This meetup was a sacred one too, because it is the last time it was held in Stetsons Famous Bar & Grill at U Street, which is going to permanently close on Halloween this year. The group is eagerly looking for a new venue for the upcoming meetup. This meeting was a crowded one. I sincerely thank the organizers, Charlie Greenbacker and Liz Merkhofer, for hosting all these meetings, and Chris Phipps (a linguist from IBM Watson) for recording.