Structured Neural Topic Models for Reviews


Babak Esmaeili, Hongyi Huang, Byron Wallace, Jan-Willem van de Meent ;
Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, PMLR 89:3429-3439, 2019.


We present Variational Aspect-based Latent Topic Allocation (VALTA), a family of autoencoding topic models that learn aspect-based representations of reviews. VALTA defines a user-item encoder that maps bag-of-words vectors for combined reviews associated with each paired user and item onto structured embeddings, which in turn define per-aspect topic weights. We model individual reviews in a structured manner by inferring an aspect assignment for each sentence in a given review, where the per-aspect topic weights obtained by the user-item encoder serve to define a mixture over topics, conditioned on the aspect. The result is an autoencoding neural topic model for reviews, which can be trained in a fully unsupervised manner to learn topics that are structured into aspects. Experimental evaluation on large number of datasets demonstrates that aspects are interpretable, yield higher coherence scores than non-structured autoencoding topic model variants, and can be utilized to perform aspect-based comparison and genre discovery.

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