Naive Bayes gets Sentimental

Mar 1, 2019 by Rachna

It was fun to watch wink-sentiment’s stupidity in our previous post. Humans express sentiments in complex ways. Therefore, mere dependence on lexical content can be misleading. Understanding rhetorical notes such as sarcasm, irony, or implications are largely driven by interplay of words. Forget machines, sometimes these expressions can even confuse human beings!

wink-sentiment barely overcomes some of these challenges by handling negation, emoticons, contractions and common phrases. As a result, it delivers an accuracy of 77% when tested on the Amazon Product Review Sentiment Labelled Sentences Data Set from UCI Machine Learning Repository. While this is surely a quick way to get started, the only better way is to train machine on the task! The catch here is that we must have labeled data, which usually becomes a challenge. It is in these situations, wink-sentiment comes to our rescue!

I decided to setup a quick experiment with the wink-naive-bayes-text-classifier for negative/positive sentiment classification. The Amazon Product Review data comes pre-labelled as 0 and 1 for Negative and Positive sentiment respectively; here is a sample:

Review Sentiment
It is unusable in a moving car at freeway speed. 0
I bought this to use with my Kindle Fire and absolutely loved it! 1
The commercials are the most misleading. 0
good protection and does not make phone too bulky. 1
I bought it for my mother and she had a problem with the battery. 0
Great Pocket PC / phone combination. 1

My immediate instinct was to remove stop words as they don’t have much value for a bag-of-words model, propagate negations to ensure phrases like “not good” are handled properly, and stem the words to make more general sense from them. For effective propagation of negation, expansion of contractions of form “Xn’t” to “X not” was also necessary. Here is how the preparatory tasks and configuration were set-up:

nbc.definePrepTasks( [
  // Convert Xn't contractions to X not.
  // Use simple tokenizer
  // Use stemmer to obtain base form of the word.
  // Handle impact of negation
  // Remove stop words
] );
// Configure behavior
nbc.defineConfig( { considerOnlyPresence: true, smoothingFactor: 0.5 } );

For validation, I first shuffled the data using array.shuffle utility from wink-helpers and subsequently partitioned it into training (80% i.e. 800 rows) and evaluation (20% i.e. 200 rows) sets. Note wink-naive-bayes-text-classifier has a comprehensive API for evaluation but simplicity was our focus.

It achieved an accuracy of 85% – a solid 8% jump from earlier 77% – as we were expecting! The question remained, is this the limit?

Exploring wink averaged perceptron for sentiment analysis at this stage seemed a worthwhile idea. In order to prepare the input data, similar set-up as above was used. The tokens were converted to bag-of-words using the tokens.bagOfWords API from wink-nlp-utils. I used { shuffleData: true, maxIterations: 6 } as the hyperparameters for perceptron and got a marginal hike of 0.5% over the naive bayes. But this was achieved with a small trick – the pocket perceptron approach – selected the best model from multiple runs!

My curiosity didn’t end here and I couldn’t wait to experiment with our upcoming wink-nlp. It provides an API to compute document vector using the pre-trained word vectors that come out-of-the-box. As a result the bag-of-words model could now be easily replaced by document or sentence vectors. Word vectors provide a distinct advantage when it comes to handling out-of-vocabulary words.

This time perceptron delivered an accuracy of 89% – another impressive jump of 3.5% from our earlier best of 85.5%.

A leap from 77% to 89% accuracy – exploration definitely goes a long way!

We are striving to release wink-nlp’s first version in next few weeks, sign-up here for an early preview of the same.


naive bayes text classifier
Configurable Naive Bayes Classifier for text with cross-validation support.
Github · Documentation

Accurate and fast sentiment scoring of phrases with emoticons & emojis.
Github · Documentation

nlp utils
NLP Functions for amplifying negations, managing elisions, creating ngrams, stems, phonetic codes to tokens and more.
Github · Documentation

Multi-class averaged perceptron.
Github · Documentation

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