Topic modeling is a well-established technique for exploring text corpora. Conventional topic models (e.g., LDA) represent topics as bags of words that often require "reading the tea leaves" to interpret; additionally, they offer users minimal semantic control over topics. To tackle these issues, we introduce TopicGPT, a prompt-based framework that uses large language models (LLMs) to uncover latent topics within a provided text collection. TopicGPT produces topics that align better with human categorizations compared to competing methods: for example, it achieves a harmonic mean purity of 0.74 against human-annotated Wikipedia topics compared to 0.64 for the strongest baseline. Its topics are also more interpretable, dispensing with ambiguous bags of words in favor of topics with natural language labels and associated free-form descriptions. Moreover, the framework is highly adaptable, allowing users to specify constraints and modify topics without the need for model retraining. TopicGPT can be further extended to hierarchical topical modeling, enabling users to explore topics at various levels of granularity. By streamlining access to high-quality and interpretable topics, TopicGPT represents a compelling, human-centered approach to topic modeling.
Language is multifaceted. A given utterance can be re-expressed in equivalent forms, and its implicit and explicit content support various logical and pragmatic inferences. When processing an utterance, we consider these different aspects, as mediated by our interpretive goals -- understanding that "it's dark in here" may be a veiled direction to turn on a light. Nonetheless, NLP methods typically operate over the surface form alone, eliding this nuance. In this work, we represent language with language, and direct an LLM to decompose utterances into logical and plausible inferences. The reduced complexity of the decompositions makes them easier to embed, opening up novel applications. Variations on our technique lead to state-of-the-art improvements on sentence embedding benchmarks, a substantive application in computational political science, and to a novel construct-discovery process, which we validate with human annotations.
Topic models are used to make sense of large text collections. However, automatically evaluating topic model output and determining the optimal number of topics both have been longstanding challenges, with no effective automated solutions to date. This paper proposes using large language models to evaluate such output. We find that large language models appropriately assess the resulting topics, correlating more strongly with human judgments than existing automated metrics. We then investigate whether we can use large language models to automatically determine the optimal number of topics. We automatically assign labels to documents and choosing configurations with the most pure labels returns reasonable values for the optimal number of topics.
Recently, the relationship between automated and human evaluation of topic models has been called into question. Method developers have staked the efficacy of new topic model variants on automated measures, and their failure to approximate human preferences places these models on uncertain ground. Moreover, existing evaluation paradigms are often divorced from real-world use. Motivated by content analysis as a dominant real-world use case for topic modeling, we analyze two related aspects of topic models that affect their effectiveness and trustworthiness in practice for that purpose: the stability of their estimates and the extent to which the model's discovered categories align with human-determined categories in the data. We find that neural topic models fare worse in both respects compared to an established classical method. We take a step toward addressing both issues in tandem by demonstrating that a straightforward ensembling method can reliably outperform the members of the ensemble.
Topic model evaluation, like evaluation of other unsupervised methods, can be contentious. However, the field has coalesced around automated estimates of topic coherence, which rely on the frequency of word co-occurrences in a reference corpus. Recent models relying on neural components surpass classical topic models according to these metrics. At the same time, unlike classical models, the practice of neural topic model evaluation suffers from a validation gap: automatic coherence for neural models has not been validated using human experimentation. In addition, as we show via a meta-analysis of topic modeling literature, there is a substantial standardization gap in the use of automated topic modeling benchmarks. We address both the standardization gap and the validation gap. Using two of the most widely used topic model evaluation datasets, we assess a dominant classical model and two state-of-the-art neural models in a systematic, clearly documented, reproducible way. We use automatic coherence along with the two most widely accepted human judgment tasks, namely, topic rating and word intrusion. Automated evaluation will declare one model significantly different from another when corresponding human evaluations do not, calling into question the validity of fully automatic evaluations independent of human judgments.
Generating text from structured inputs, such as meaning representations or RDF triples, has often involved the use of specialized graph-encoding neural networks. However, recent applications of pretrained transformers to linearizations of graph inputs have yielded state-of-the-art generation results on graph-to-text tasks. Here, we explore the ability of these linearized models to encode local graph structures, in particular their invariance to the graph linearization strategy and their ability to reconstruct corrupted inputs. Our findings motivate solutions to enrich the quality of models' implicit graph encodings via scaffolding. Namely, we use graph-denoising objectives implemented in a multi-task text-to-text framework. We find that these denoising scaffolds lead to substantial improvements in downstream generation in low-resource settings.
Topic models are often used to identify human-interpretable topics to help make sense of large document collections. We use knowledge distillation to combine the best attributes of probabilistic topic models and pretrained transformers. Our modular method can be straightforwardly applied with any neural topic model to improve topic quality, which we demonstrate using two models having disparate architectures, obtaining state-of-the-art topic coherence. We show that our adaptable framework not only improves performance in the aggregate over all estimated topics, as is commonly reported, but also in head-to-head comparisons of aligned topics.
Studying the ways in which language is gendered has long been an area of interest in sociolinguistics. Studies have explored, for example, the speech of male and female characters in film and the language used to describe male and female politicians. In this paper, we aim not to merely study this phenomenon qualitatively, but instead to quantify the degree to which the language used to describe men and women is different and, moreover, different in a positive or negative way. To that end, we introduce a generative latent-variable model that jointly represents adjective (or verb) choice, with its sentiment, given the natural gender of a head (or dependent) noun. We find that there are significant differences between descriptions of male and female nouns and that these differences align with common gender stereotypes: Positive adjectives used to describe women are more often related to their bodies than adjectives used to describe men.
When assigning quantitative labels to a dataset, different methodologies may rely on different scales. In particular, when assigning polarities to words in a sentiment lexicon, annotators may use binary, categorical, or continuous labels. Naturally, it is of interest to unify these labels from disparate scales to both achieve maximal coverage over words and to create a single, more robust sentiment lexicon while retaining scale coherence. We introduce a generative model of sentiment lexica to combine disparate scales into a common latent representation. We realize this model with a novel multi-view variational autoencoder (VAE), called SentiVAE. We evaluate our approach via a downstream text classification task involving nine English-Language sentiment analysis datasets; our representation outperforms six individual sentiment lexica, as well as a straightforward combination thereof.