In this series, we’ve explored what a topic model is, why topic models are important, how to build one, and how to choose when topic modeling is the appropriate methodology.
As with all forms of machine learning and software, topic modeling software continues to evolve and improve. What was possible a few months ago is substantially better today. What was impossible or very impractical previously is now within our reach.
With that, let’s turn our eyes forward.
The Future of Topic Modeling
Today, topic modeling is still largely based on two algorithms, LSA and LDA. These models are mathematically sound and very efficient for topic modeling purposes. However, they have one glaring flaw: they are context-free. The frequencies of words and phrases distributed throughout a corpus is how these algorithms work, but frequencies do not impart meaning.
For example, because topic modeling is categorical unsupervised learning, we cannot infer sentiment from a topic model. We would need to run that analysis separately, using categorical supervised learning methods. Today, this level of analysis is technically possible but out of reach for the average business user; only purchasers and users of high-end language modeling software have access to it.
Topic modeling will evolve in the coming months and years as deep learning technologies continue to be more broadly available and accessible. How will this impact topic modeling? In the example above, we would need to process sentiment as a separate, discrete process from the topic model itself. This is inefficient and scales poorly. Deep learning ties together different kinds of machine learning so that the output from one technique is the input to another technique, like assembling children’s building blocks.
Topic modeling will evolve to a deep learning model that recognizes patterns of context and sentiment, as well as incorporating the current mathematical techniques. It may, depending on the evolution of deep learning technologies, even incorporate computer vision, to recognize the spatial nature of text and its role in sentiment and tone.
In time, topic modeling will be a part of artificial intelligence’s understanding of human language - a powerful tool that will only improve our ability to understand our audiences at massive scale.
These are exciting times for marketers. We are on the cusp of truly understanding our audiences at every level, in every way, as our artificial intelligence capabilities grow. If you haven’t already begun experimenting with AI and machine learning in your marketing practice, topic modeling is a great place to start.
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