Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) Algorithm - Amazon SageMaker

Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) Algorithm

The Amazon SageMaker Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) algorithm is an unsupervised learning algorithm that attempts to describe a set of observations as a mixture of distinct categories. LDA is most commonly used to discover a user-specified number of topics shared by documents within a text corpus. Here each observation is a document, the features are the presence (or occurrence count) of each word, and the categories are the topics. Since the method is unsupervised, the topics are not specified up front, and are not guaranteed to align with how a human may naturally categorize documents. The topics are learned as a probability distribution over the words that occur in each document. Each document, in turn, is described as a mixture of topics.

The exact content of two documents with similar topic mixtures will not be the same. But overall, you would expect these documents to more frequently use a shared subset of words, than when compared with a document from a different topic mixture. This allows LDA to discover these word groups and use them to form topics. As an extremely simple example, given a set of documents where the only words that occur within them are: eat, sleep, play, meow, and bark, LDA might produce topics like the following:


eat sleep play meow bark
Topic 1 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.4 0.0
Topic 2 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.3

You can infer that documents that are more likely to fall into Topic 1 are about cats (who are more likely to meow and sleep), and documents that fall into Topic 2 are about dogs (who prefer to play and bark). These topics can be found even though the words dog and cat never appear in any of the texts.

Choosing between Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) and Neural Topic Model (NTM)

Topic models are commonly used to produce topics from corpuses that (1) coherently encapsulate semantic meaning and (2) describe documents well. As such, topic models aim to minimize perplexity and maximize topic coherence.

Perplexity is an intrinsic language modeling evaluation metric that measures the inverse of the geometric mean per-word likelihood in your test data. A lower perplexity score indicates better generalization performance. Research has shown that the likelihood computed per word often does not align to human judgement, and can be entirely non-correlated, thus topic coherence has been introduced. Each inferred topic from your model consists of words, and topic coherence is computed to the top N words for that particular topic from your model. It is often defined as the average or median of the pairwise word-similarity scores of the words in that topic e.g., Pointwise Mutual Information (PMI). A promising model generates coherent topics or topics with high topic coherence scores.

While the objective is to train a topic model that minimizes perplexity and maximizes topic coherence, there is often a tradeoff with both LDA and NTM. Recent research by Amazon, Dinget et al., 2018 has shown that NTM is promising for achieving high topic coherence but LDA trained with collapsed Gibbs sampling achieves better perplexity. There is a tradeoff between perplexity and topic coherence. From a practicality standpoint regarding hardware and compute power, SageMaker NTM hardware is more flexible than LDA and can scale better because NTM can run on CPU and GPU and can be parallelized across multiple GPU instances, whereas LDA only supports single-instance CPU training.

Input/Output Interface for the LDA Algorithm

LDA expects data to be provided on the train channel, and optionally supports a test channel, which is scored by the final model. LDA supports both recordIO-wrapped-protobuf (dense and sparse) and CSV file formats. For CSV, the data must be dense and have dimension equal to number of records * vocabulary size. LDA can be trained in File or Pipe mode when using recordIO-wrapped protobuf, but only in File mode for the CSV format.

For inference, text/csv, application/json, and application/x-recordio-protobuf content types are supported. Sparse data can also be passed for application/json and application/x-recordio-protobuf. LDA inference returns application/json or application/x-recordio-protobuf predictions, which include the topic_mixture vector for each observation.

Please see the LDA Sample Notebooks for more detail on training and inference formats.

EC2 Instance Recommendation for the LDA Algorithm

LDA currently only supports single-instance CPU training. CPU instances are recommended for hosting/inference.

LDA Sample Notebooks

For a sample notebook that shows how to train the SageMaker Latent Dirichlet Allocation algorithm on a dataset and then how to deploy the trained model to perform inferences about the topic mixtures in input documents, see the An Introduction to SageMaker LDA. For instructions how to create and access Jupyter notebook instances that you can use to run the example in SageMaker, see Use Amazon SageMaker Notebook Instances. Once you have created a notebook instance and opened it, select the SageMaker Examples tab to see a list of all the SageMaker samples. The topic modeling example notebooks using the NTM algorithms are located in the Introduction to Amazon algorithms section. To open a notebook, click on its Use tab and select Create copy.