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Semi-supervised Topic Modeling

In BERTopic, you have several options to nudge the creation of topics toward certain pre-specified topics. Here, we will be looking at semi-supervised topic modeling with BERTopic.

Semi-supervised modeling allows us to steer the dimensionality reduction of the embeddings into a space that closely follows any labels you might already have.

SBERT UMAP HDBSCAN c-TF-IDF Embeddings Dimensionality reduction Labels Clustering Topic representation

In other words, we use a semi-supervised UMAP instance to reduce the dimensionality of embeddings before clustering the documents with HDBSCAN.

First, let us prepare the data needed for our topic model:

from bertopic import BERTopic
from sklearn.datasets import fetch_20newsgroups

data = fetch_20newsgroups(subset='all',  remove=('headers', 'footers', 'quotes'))
docs = data["data"]
categories = data["target"]
category_names = data["target_names"]

We are using the popular 20 Newsgroups dataset which contains roughly 18000 newsgroups posts that each is assigned to one of 20 categories. Using this dataset we can try to extract its corresponding topic model whilst taking its underlying categories into account. These categories are here the variable targets.

Each document can be put into one of the following categories:

>>> category_names


To perform this semi-supervised approach, we can take in some pre-defined topics and simply pass those to the y parameter when fitting BERTopic. These labels can be pre-defined topics or simply documents that you feel belong together regardless of their content. BERTopic will nudge the creation of topics toward these categories using the pre-defined labels.

To perform supervised topic modeling, we simply use all categories:

topic_model = BERTopic(verbose=True).fit(docs, y=categories)

The topic model will be much more attuned to the categories that were defined previously. However, this does not mean that only topics for these categories will be found. BERTopic is likely to find more specific topics in those you have already defined. This allows you to discover previously unknown topics!

Partial labels

At times, you might only have labels for a subset of documents. Fortunately, we can still use those labels to at least nudge the documents for which those labels exist. The documents for which we do not have labels are assigned a -1. For this example, imagine we only have the labels of categories that are related to computers and we want to create a topic model using semi-supervised modeling:

labels_to_add = ['', '',
              '', 'comp.sys.mac.hardware',
indices = [category_names.index(label) for label in labels_to_add]
y = [label if label in indices else -1 for label in categories]

The y variable contains many -1 values since we do not know all the categories.

Next, we use those newly constructed labels to again BERTopic semi-supervised:

topic_model = BERTopic(verbose=True).fit(docs, y=y)

And that is it! By defining certain classes for our documents, we can steer the topic modeling towards modeling the pre-defined categories.