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Word Embeddings

What are word embeddings?

In natural language processing (NLP), word embedding is a term used for the representation of words for text analysis, typically in the form of a real-valued vector that encodes the meaning of the word such that the words that are closer in the vector space are expected to be similar in meaning.

Word embeddings can be obtained using a set of language modeling and feature learning techniques where words or phrases from the vocabulary are mapped to vectors of real numbers. Conceptually it involves the mathematical embedding from space with many dimensions per word to a continuous vector space with a much lower dimension.

Methods to generate this mapping include neural networks, dimensionality reduction on the word co-occurrence matrix, probabilistic models, explainable knowledge base method, and explicit representation in terms of the context in which words appear.

Word and phrase embeddings, when used as the underlying input representation, have been shown to boost the performance in NLP tasks such as syntactic parsing and sentiment analysis.

Where are word embeddings used?

A common practice in NLP is the use of pre-trained vector representations of words, also known as embeddings, for all sorts of down-stream tasks. Intuitively, these word embeddings represent implicit relationships between words that are useful when training on data that can benefit from contextual information.

What are the most popular word embedding algorithms?

Word embedding methods learn a real-valued vector representation for a predefined fixed sized vocabulary from a corpus of text.

The learning process is either joint with the neural network model on some task, such as document classification, or is an unsupervised process, using document statistics.

1. Embedding Layer

An embedding layer, for lack of a better name, is a word embedding that is learned jointly with a neural network model on a specific natural language processing task, such as language modeling or document classification.

It requires that document text be cleaned and prepared such that each word is one-hot encoded. The size of the vector space is specified as part of the model, such as 50, 100, or 300 dimensions. The vectors are initialized with small random numbers. The embedding layer is used on the front end of a neural network and is fit in a supervised way using the Backpropagation algorithm.

The one-hot encoded words are mapped to the word vectors. If a multilayer Perceptron model is used, then the word vectors are concatenated before being fed as input to the model. If a recurrent neural network is used, then each word may be taken as one input in a sequence.

This approach of learning an embedding layer requires a lot of training data and can be slow, but will learn an embedding both targeted to the specific text data and the NLP task.

2. Word2Vec

Word2Vec is a statistical method for efficiently learning a standalone word embedding from a text corpus.

It was developed by Tomas Mikolov, et al. at Google in 2013 as a response to make the neural-network-based training of the embedding more efficient and since then has become the de facto standard for developing pre-trained word embedding.

Additionally, the work involved analysis of the learned vectors and the exploration of vector math on the representations of words. For example, that subtracting the “man-ness” from “King” and adding “women-ness” results in the word “Queen“, capturing the analogy “king is to queen as man is to woman“.

Two different learning models were introduced that can be used as part of the word2vec approach to learn the word embedding; they are:

  • Continuous Bag-of-Words, or CBOW model.
  • Continuous Skip-Gram Model.

The CBOW model learns the embedding by predicting the current word based on its context. The continuous skip-gram model learns by predicting the surrounding words given a current word.

The continuous skip-gram model learns by predicting the surrounding words given a current word.

Both models are focused on learning about words given their local usage context, where the context is defined by a window of neighboring words. This window is a configurable parameter of the model.

The key benefit of the approach is that high-quality word embeddings can be learned efficiently (low space and time complexity), allowing larger embeddings to be learned (more dimensions) from much larger corpora of text (billions of words).

3. GloVe

The Global Vectors for Word Representation, or GloVe, algorithm is an extension to the word2vec method for efficiently learning word vectors, developed by Pennington, et al. at Stanford.

Classical vector space model representations of words were developed using matrix factorization techniques such as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) that do a good job of using global text statistics but are not as good as the learned methods like word2vec at capturing meaning and demonstrating it on tasks like calculating analogies.

GloVe is an approach to marry both the global statistics of matrix factorization techniques like LSA with the local context-based learning in word2vec.

Rather than using a window to define local context, GloVe constructs an explicit word-context or word co-occurrence matrix using statistics across the whole text corpus. The result is a learning model that may result in generally better word embeddings.

How do I use word embeds for text classification?

The pipeline for creating a deep learning model using labeled texts is as follows:

  • Split the data into text (X) and labels (Y)
  • Preprocess X
  • Create a word embedding matrix from X
  • Create a tensor input from X
  • Train a deep learning model using the tensor inputs and labels (Y)
  • Make predictions on new data


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Word Embeddings

October 14, 2020

Table of contents

Key takeawaysCollaboration platforms are essential to the new way of workingEmployees prefer engati over emailEmployees play a growing part in software purchasing decisionsThe future of work is collaborativeMethodology

What are word embeddings?

In natural language processing (NLP), word embedding is a term used for the representation of words for text analysis, typically in the form of a real-valued vector that encodes the meaning of the word such that the words that are closer in the vector space are expected to be similar in meaning.

Word embeddings can be obtained using a set of language modeling and feature learning techniques where words or phrases from the vocabulary are mapped to vectors of real numbers. Conceptually it involves the mathematical embedding from space with many dimensions per word to a continuous vector space with a much lower dimension.

Methods to generate this mapping include neural networks, dimensionality reduction on the word co-occurrence matrix, probabilistic models, explainable knowledge base method, and explicit representation in terms of the context in which words appear.

Word and phrase embeddings, when used as the underlying input representation, have been shown to boost the performance in NLP tasks such as syntactic parsing and sentiment analysis.

Where are word embeddings used?

A common practice in NLP is the use of pre-trained vector representations of words, also known as embeddings, for all sorts of down-stream tasks. Intuitively, these word embeddings represent implicit relationships between words that are useful when training on data that can benefit from contextual information.

What are the most popular word embedding algorithms?

Word embedding methods learn a real-valued vector representation for a predefined fixed sized vocabulary from a corpus of text.

The learning process is either joint with the neural network model on some task, such as document classification, or is an unsupervised process, using document statistics.

1. Embedding Layer

An embedding layer, for lack of a better name, is a word embedding that is learned jointly with a neural network model on a specific natural language processing task, such as language modeling or document classification.

It requires that document text be cleaned and prepared such that each word is one-hot encoded. The size of the vector space is specified as part of the model, such as 50, 100, or 300 dimensions. The vectors are initialized with small random numbers. The embedding layer is used on the front end of a neural network and is fit in a supervised way using the Backpropagation algorithm.

The one-hot encoded words are mapped to the word vectors. If a multilayer Perceptron model is used, then the word vectors are concatenated before being fed as input to the model. If a recurrent neural network is used, then each word may be taken as one input in a sequence.

This approach of learning an embedding layer requires a lot of training data and can be slow, but will learn an embedding both targeted to the specific text data and the NLP task.

2. Word2Vec

Word2Vec is a statistical method for efficiently learning a standalone word embedding from a text corpus.

It was developed by Tomas Mikolov, et al. at Google in 2013 as a response to make the neural-network-based training of the embedding more efficient and since then has become the de facto standard for developing pre-trained word embedding.

Additionally, the work involved analysis of the learned vectors and the exploration of vector math on the representations of words. For example, that subtracting the “man-ness” from “King” and adding “women-ness” results in the word “Queen“, capturing the analogy “king is to queen as man is to woman“.

Two different learning models were introduced that can be used as part of the word2vec approach to learn the word embedding; they are:

  • Continuous Bag-of-Words, or CBOW model.
  • Continuous Skip-Gram Model.

The CBOW model learns the embedding by predicting the current word based on its context. The continuous skip-gram model learns by predicting the surrounding words given a current word.

The continuous skip-gram model learns by predicting the surrounding words given a current word.

Both models are focused on learning about words given their local usage context, where the context is defined by a window of neighboring words. This window is a configurable parameter of the model.

The key benefit of the approach is that high-quality word embeddings can be learned efficiently (low space and time complexity), allowing larger embeddings to be learned (more dimensions) from much larger corpora of text (billions of words).

3. GloVe

The Global Vectors for Word Representation, or GloVe, algorithm is an extension to the word2vec method for efficiently learning word vectors, developed by Pennington, et al. at Stanford.

Classical vector space model representations of words were developed using matrix factorization techniques such as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) that do a good job of using global text statistics but are not as good as the learned methods like word2vec at capturing meaning and demonstrating it on tasks like calculating analogies.

GloVe is an approach to marry both the global statistics of matrix factorization techniques like LSA with the local context-based learning in word2vec.

Rather than using a window to define local context, GloVe constructs an explicit word-context or word co-occurrence matrix using statistics across the whole text corpus. The result is a learning model that may result in generally better word embeddings.

How do I use word embeds for text classification?

The pipeline for creating a deep learning model using labeled texts is as follows:

  • Split the data into text (X) and labels (Y)
  • Preprocess X
  • Create a word embedding matrix from X
  • Create a tensor input from X
  • Train a deep learning model using the tensor inputs and labels (Y)
  • Make predictions on new data


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