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Progressive Learning of Topic Modeling Parameters


Mennatallah El-Assady, Rita Sevastjanova, Fabian Sperrle, Daniel Keim, and Christopher Collins

Topic modelling algorithms are widely used to analyze the thematic composition of text corpora but remain difficult to interpret and adjust. Addressing these limitations, we present a modular visual analytics framework, tackling the understandability and adaptability of topic models through a user-driven reinforcement learning process that does not require a deep understanding of the underlying topic modelling algorithms. Given a document corpus, our approach initializes two algorithm configurations based on a parameter space analysis that enhances document separability. We abstract the model complexity in an interactive visual workspace for exploring the automatic matching results of two models, investigating topic summaries, analyzing parameter distributions, and reviewing documents. The main contribution of our work is an iterative decision-making technique in which users provide document-based relevance feedback that allows the framework to converge to a user-endorsed topic distribution. We also report feedback from a two-stage study which shows that our technique results in topic model quality improvements on two independent measures.

This research was given a Best VAST Paper Honorable Mention Award at VAST 2017.

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Talk from IEEE VAST 2017


  • M. El-Assady, R. Sevastjanova, F. Sperrle, D. Keim, and C. Collins, “Progressive Learning of Topic Modeling Parameters: A Visual Analytics Framework,” IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 24, iss. 1 , pp. 382-391, 2018.


    author = {Mennatallah El-Assady and Rita Sevastjanova and Fabian Sperrle and Daniel Keim and Christopher Collins},
    title = {Progressive Learning of Topic Modeling Parameters: A Visual Analytics Framework},
    journal = {IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics},
    doi = {10.1109/TVCG.2017.2745080},
    ISSN = { 1077-2626 },
    volume = 24,
    Number = { 1 },
    Pages= { 382–391},
    year = 2018,
    Month = jan,
    note = {Honorable Mention for Best Paper}