Topic Modeling with BERT


By Maarten Grootendorst, Data Scientist



Often when I’m approached by a product proprietor to do some NLP-based analyses, I’m usually requested the next query:

“Which topic can frequently be found in these documents?”

Void of any classes or labels I’m pressured to look into unsupervised strategies to extract these subjects, specifically Topic Modeling.

Although matter fashions resembling LDA and NMF have proven to be good beginning factors, I at all times felt it took fairly some effort via hyperparameter tuning to create significant subjects.

Moreover, I needed to make use of transformer-based fashions resembling BERT as they’ve proven superb leads to varied NLP duties over the previous few years. Pre-trained fashions are particularly useful as they’re purported to include extra correct representations of phrases and sentences.

A number of weeks in the past I noticed this nice mission named Top2Vec* which leveraged document- and phrase embeddings to create subjects that have been simply interpretable. I began trying on the code to generalize Top2Vec such that it may very well be used with pre-trained transformer fashions.

The nice benefit of Doc2Vec is that the ensuing document- and phrase embeddings are collectively embedding in the identical area which permits doc embeddings to be represented by close by phrase embeddings. Unfortunately, this proved to be troublesome as BERT embeddings are token-based and don’t essentially occupy the identical area**.

Instead, I made a decision to come back up with a special algorithm that would use BERT and 🤗 transformers embeddings. The result’s BERTopic, an algorithm for producing subjects utilizing state-of-the-art embeddings.

The important matter of this text won’t be using BERTopic however a tutorial on use BERT to create your individual matter mannequin.

PAPER*: Angelov, D. (2020). Top2Vec: Distributed Representations of Topics. arXiv preprint arXiv:2008.09470.

NOTE**: Although you can have them occupy the identical area, the ensuing measurement of the phrase embeddings is kind of giant because of the contextual nature of BERT. Moreover, there’s a probability that the ensuing sentence- or doc embeddings will degrade in high quality.


1. Data & Packages

For this instance, we use the well-known 20 Newsgroups dataset which accommodates roughly 18000 newsgroups posts on 20 subjects. Using Scikit-Learn, we will shortly obtain and put together the information:

If you wish to velocity up coaching, you’ll be able to choose the subset practice as it is going to lower the variety of posts you extract.

NOTE: If you wish to apply matter modeling not on the complete doc however on the paragraph degree, I’d counsel splitting your knowledge earlier than creating the embeddings.


2. Embeddings

The very first step we’ve to do is changing the paperwork to numerical knowledge. We use BERT for this goal because it extracts completely different embeddings primarily based on the context of the phrase. Not solely that, there are a lot of pre-trained fashions obtainable prepared for use.

How you generate the BERT embeddings for a doc is as much as you. However, I want to make use of the sentence-transformers bundle because the ensuing embeddings have proven to be of top quality and usually work fairly effectively for document-level embeddings.

Install the bundle with pip set up sentence-transformers earlier than producing the doc embeddings. If you run into points putting in this bundle, then it’s value putting in Pytorch first.

Then, run the next code to remodel your paperwork in 512-dimensional vectors:

We are utilizing Distilbert because it offers a pleasant steadiness between velocity and efficiency. The bundle has a number of multi-lingual fashions obtainable so that you can use.

NOTE: Since transformer fashions have a token restrict, you may run into some errors when inputting giant paperwork. In that case, you can think about splitting paperwork into paragraphs.


3. Clustering

We wish to make it possible for paperwork with comparable subjects are clustered collectively such that we will discover the subjects inside these clusters. Before doing so, we first have to decrease the dimensionality of the embeddings as many clustering algorithms deal with excessive dimensionality poorly.



Out of the few dimensionality discount algorithms, UMAP is arguably the very best performing because it retains a good portion of the high-dimensional native construction in decrease dimensionality.

Install the bundle with pip set up umap-learn earlier than we decrease the dimensionality of the doc embeddings. We cut back the dimensionality to five whereas holding the dimensions of the native neighborhood at 15. You can mess around with these values to optimize on your matter creation. Note {that a} too low dimensionality leads to a lack of info whereas a too excessive dimensionality leads to poorer clustering outcomes.



After having lowered the dimensionality of the paperwork embeddings to five, we will cluster the paperwork with HDBSCAN. HDBSCAN is a density-based algorithm that works fairly effectively with UMAP since UMAP maintains loads of native construction even in lower-dimensional area. Moreover, HDBSCAN doesn’t drive knowledge factors to clusters because it considers them outliers.

Install the bundle with pip set up hdbscan then create the clusters:

Great! We now have clustered comparable paperwork collectively which ought to signify the subjects that they include. To visualize the ensuing clusters we will additional cut back the dimensionality to 2 and visualize the outliers as gray factors:


Topics visualized by lowering sentenced embeddings to 2-dimensional area. Image by the creator.


It is troublesome to visualise the person clusters because of the variety of subjects generated (~55). However, we will see that even in 2-dimensional area some native construction is stored.

NOTE: You may skip the dimensionality discount step in case you use a clustering algorithm that may deal with excessive dimensionality like a cosine-based k-Means.


4. Topic Creation

What we wish to know from the clusters that we generated, is what makes one cluster, primarily based on their content material, completely different from one other?

How can we derive subjects from clustered paperwork?

To clear up this, I got here up with a class-based variant of TF-IDF (c-TF-IDF), that might permit me to extract what makes every set of paperwork distinctive in comparison with the opposite.

The instinct behind the strategy is as follows. When you apply TF-IDF as ordinary on a set of paperwork, what you might be mainly doing is evaluating the significance of phrases between paperwork.

What if, we as an alternative deal with all paperwork in a single class (e.g., a cluster) as a single doc after which apply TF-IDF? The outcome could be a really lengthy doc per class and the ensuing TF-IDF rating would exhibit the vital phrases in a subject.



To create this class-based TF-IDF rating, we have to first create a single doc for every cluster of paperwork:

Then, we apply the class-based TF-IDF:


Class-based TF-IDF by becoming a member of paperwork inside a category. Image by the creator.


Where the frequency of every phrase t is extracted for every class i and divided by the full variety of phrases w. This motion might be seen as a type of regularization of frequent phrases within the class. Next, the full, unjoined, variety of paperwork m is split by the full frequency of phrase t throughout all courses n.

Now, we’ve a single significance worth for every phrase in a cluster which can be utilized to create the subject. If we take the highest 10 most vital phrases in every cluster, then we might get a superb illustration of a cluster, and thereby a subject.


Topic Representation

In order to create a subject illustration, we take the highest 20 phrases per matter primarily based on their c-TF-IDF scores. The increased the rating, the extra consultant it must be of its matter because the rating is a proxy of data density.

We can use topic_sizes to view how frequent sure subjects are:


Image by the creator.


The matter identify-1 refers to all paperwork that didn’t have any subjects assigned. The beauty of HDBSCAN is that not all paperwork are pressured in direction of a sure cluster. If no cluster may very well be discovered, then it’s merely an outlier.

We can see that subjects 7, 43, 12, and 41 are the biggest clusters that we may create. To view the phrases belonging to these subjects, we will merely use the dictionarytop_n_words to entry these subjects:


Image by the creator.


Looking on the largest 4 subjects, I’d say that these properly appear to signify simply interpretable subjects!

I can see sports activities, computer systems, area, and faith as clear subjects that have been extracted from the information.


5. Topic Reduction

There is an opportunity that, relying on the dataset, you’re going to get a whole lot of subjects that have been created! You can tweak the parameters of HDBSCAN such that you’re going to get fewer subjects via its min_cluster_size parameter however it doesn’t let you specify the precise variety of clusters.

A nifty trick that Top2Vec was utilizing is the power to cut back the variety of subjects by merging the subject vectors that have been most comparable to one another.

We can use an identical method by evaluating the c-TF-IDF vectors amongst subjects, merge essentially the most comparable ones, and eventually re-calculate the c-TF-IDF vectors to replace the illustration of our subjects:

Above, we took the least widespread matter and merged it with essentially the most comparable matter. By repeating this 19 extra occasions we lowered the variety of subjects from 56 to 36!

NOTE: We can skip the re-calculation a part of this pipeline to hurry up the subject discount step. However, it’s extra correct to re-calculate the c-TF-IDF vectors as that might higher signify the newly generated content material of the subjects. You can mess around with this by, for instance, replace each n steps to each speed-up the method and nonetheless have good matter representations.

TIP: You can use the strategy described on this article (or just use BERTopic) to additionally create sentence-level embeddings. The important benefit of that is the chance to view the distribution of subjects inside a single doc.


Thank you for studying!

If you might be, like me, enthusiastic about AI, Data Science, or Psychology, please be happy so as to add me on LinkedIn or comply with me on Twitter.

All examples and code on this article might be discovered right here.

Bio: Maarten Grootendorst is a Data Scientist, largely working with ML and NLP, with a background in Organizational and Clinical Psychology. Maarten’s path thus far has not been typical, transitioning from psychology to data science, however has left him with a powerful need to create data-driven options that make the world a barely higher place.

Original. Reposted with permission.



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