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Latent Semantic Kernels

In Information Retrieval via Vector Space Model, retrieval is based on inner product as well

  • so can also use Kernels
  • You can already use SVM for text data and get very good performance
  • but also can incorporate additional information by using a kernel
  • In traditional Vector Space Model semantic relationships are not taken into account
  • Goal: design a "Semantic Kernel": a kernel which creates a map that captures semantic information

Building the Kernel:

  • Use Semantic Network (e.g. WordNet) to capture similarity between words and encode this information into kernel
  • use Latent Semantic Analysis to learn the semantic space and a mapping function that brings input space to the semantic spaces
  • in semantic space documents that don't share any terms still can be close if they terms are semantically related
  • this semantic similarity is inferred by analyzing co-occurrence patterns: terms that co-occur often in the same documents are considered related
  • this statistical co-occurrence is extracted via SVD

Vector Space Model

Suppose we have a term-document matrix $D$

  • then $G = D^T D$ is a doc-by-doc matrix and $T = D D^T$ matrix
  • can define a base kernel as $k(\mathbf d_1, \mathbf d_2) = \mathbf d_1^T \mathbf d_2$
  • suppose we apply some Linear Transformation $\phi$: to documents: $\phi(\mathbf d) = P \, \mathbf d$
  • (usual VSM: $P = I$)
  • then kernel becomes $k(\mathbf d_1, \mathbf d_2) = \mathbf d_1^T P^T P \mathbf d_2$ and the kernel matrix $K = D^T P^T \, P \, D$
  • now can build a new kernel $k'$ using the base kernel $k$ (e.g. polynomial or gaussian) - to increase the expressive power of the VSM model

Semantic Kernels

But in reality usual VSM models have problems with synonymy and polysemy - these kernels can't handle that

how to enrich kernels with semantic information?

  • document expansion: add all synonyms to the document
  • or replace words by concepts (can be taken from a semantic network or learned)
  • use information about term-term correlation!

So $K = D^T P^T \, P \, D$

  • let $P_{ij}$ denote semantic proximity between terms $i$ and $j$
  • then is a square symmetric matrix
  • so have $k(\mathbf d_1, \mathbf d_2) = \mathbf d_1^T P^T P \mathbf d_2 = \mathbf d_1^T P^2 \, \mathbf d_2$
  • also note that $\| P\, \mathbf d_1 - P\, \mathbf d_2 \|^2 = \| P \, (\mathbf d_1 - \mathbf d_2) \|^2 = (\mathbf d_1 - \mathbf d_2)^T P^2 \, (\mathbf d_1 - \mathbf d_2)$: can use this to apply Gaussian Kernel

$P$ can also be concept-term similarity matrix, but then $P$ will not be symmetric

LSI Kernel

LSI: document feature vector $\mathbf d$ is projected onto the subspace spanned by first $k$ singular vectors if the feature space

  • apply SVD to $D$: $D = U \Sigma V^T$ where $U$ contains the singular vectors of the feature space
  • the projection on $k$ first singular values gives $U_k$, so let $P = U_k^T$
  • $U_k$ identifies terms that co-occur most often
  • this have $k(\mathbf d_1, \mathbf d_2) = (U_k^T \mathbf d_1)^T U_k^T \mathbf d_2 = \mathbf d_1^T U_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d_2$

Suppose we have our kernel classifier

  • $f(\mathbf d) = \sum_{i = 1}^{n} \alpha_i \, k(\mathbf d_i, \mathbf d)$
  • then by using this kernel, we have
  • $f(\mathbf d) = \sum_{i = 1}^{n} \alpha_i \, \big( \mathbf d_i^T U_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d \big)$
  • now consider a vector $\boldsymbol \alpha = (\alpha_1, \ ... \ , \alpha_n)$
  • we can replace $\big( \mathbf d_i^T U_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d \big)$ with a vector $D^T U_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d$ where $D$ has documents $\mathbf d_1, \, ... \, \mathbf d_n$ as columns
  • so $f(\mathbf d) = \boldsymbol \alpha^T D^T U_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = \ ...$ let's replace $D$ with its SVD
    • $... \ = \boldsymbol \alpha^T V \, \Sigma U^T U_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = \ ...$ replace $U_k = U \, I_k$
    • $... \ = \boldsymbol \alpha^T V \, \Sigma \cancel{U^T U} I_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = \ ...$
    • $... \ = \boldsymbol \alpha^T V \, \Sigma \, I_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = \ ...$ note that $\Sigma \, I_k = \Sigma_k$
    • $... \ = \boldsymbol \alpha^T V \, \Sigma_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = \ ...$

Can we avoid working on the feature space? We still have $\Sigma_k$ and $U_k$

  • $\Sigma_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d$ - need to express in terms of the input space
  • $\Sigma_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = I_k \Sigma \, U^T \mathbf d = \ ...$
    • $... \ = \Sigma_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = I_k \underbrace{V^T V}_{I} \Sigma \, U^T \mathbf d = \ ...$
    • $... \ = \Sigma_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = I_k V^T \underbrace{V \Sigma \, U^T}_{D^T} \mathbf d = \ ...$
    • $... \ = \Sigma_k \, U_k^T \mathbf d = I_k V^T D^T \mathbf d$
  • let's plug it to $f(\mathbf d)$:
    • $f(\mathbf d) = \boldsymbol \alpha^T V \, I_k V^T D^T \mathbf d$
  • so we avoid working on the feature space directly:
  • $V$ can be computed by Eigendecomposition of the kernel matrix $K$


  • decomposing $K$
  • approximate: Smola, Alex J., and Bernhard Schölkopf. "Sparse greedy matrix approximation for machine learning." 2000. [1]


  • Cristianini, Nello, John Shawe-Taylor, and Huma Lodhi. "Latent semantic kernels." 2002. [2]