Ding, Weicong, Ishwar, Prakash, Saligrama, Venkatesh

We develop necessary and sufficient conditions and a novel provably consistent and efficient algorithm for discovering topics (latent factors) from observations (documents) that are realized from a probabilistic mixture of shared latent factors that have certain properties. Our focus is on the class of topic models in which each shared latent factor contains a novel word that is unique to that factor, a property that has come to be known as separability. Our algorithm is based on the key insight that the novel words correspond to the extreme points of the convex hull formed by the row-vectors of a suitably normalized word co-occurrence matrix. We leverage this geometric insight to establish polynomial computation and sample complexity bounds based on a few isotropic random projections of the rows of the normalized word co-occurrence matrix. Our proposed random-projections-based algorithm is naturally amenable to an efficient distributed implementation and is attractive for modern web-scale distributed data mining applications.

Almanza, Matteo, Chierichetti, Flavio, Panconesi, Alessandro, Vattani, Andrea

We present a novel approach for LDA (Latent Dirichlet Allocation) topic reconstruction. The main technical idea is to show that the distribution over the documents generated by LDA can be transformed into a distribution for a much simpler generative model in which documents are generated from {\em the same set of topics} but have a much simpler structure: documents are single topic and topics are chosen uniformly at random. Furthermore, this reduction is approximation preserving, in the sense that approximate distributions-- the only ones we can hope to compute in practice-- are mapped into approximate distribution in the simplified world. This opens up the possibility of efficiently reconstructing LDA topics in a roundabout way. Compute an approximate document distribution from the given corpus, transform it into an approximate distribution for the single-topic world, and run a reconstruction algorithm in the uniform, single topic world-- a much simpler task than direct LDA reconstruction. Indeed, we show the viability of the approach by giving very simple algorithms for a generalization of two notable cases that have been studied in the literature, $p$-separability and Gibbs sampling for matrix-like topics.

Almanza, Matteo, Chierichetti, Flavio, Panconesi, Alessandro, Vattani, Andrea

Ren, Yong, Wang, Yining, Zhu, Jun

Supervised topic models simultaneously model the latent topic structure of large collections of documents and a response variable associated with each document. Existing inference methods are based on variational approximation or Monte Carlo sampling, which often suffers from the local minimum defect. Spectral methods have been applied to learn unsupervised topic models, such as latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA), with provable guarantees. This paper investigates the possibility of applying spectral methods to recover the parameters of supervised LDA (sLDA). We first present a two-stage spectral method, which recovers the parameters of LDA followed by a power update method to recover the regression model parameters. Then, we further present a single-phase spectral algorithm to jointly recover the topic distribution matrix as well as the regression weights. Our spectral algorithms are provably correct and computationally efficient. We prove a sample complexity bound for each algorithm and subsequently derive a sufficient condition for the identifiability of sLDA. Thorough experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets verify the theory and demonstrate the practical effectiveness of the spectral algorithms. In fact, our results on a large-scale review rating dataset demonstrate that our single-phase spectral algorithm alone gets comparable or even better performance than state-of-the-art methods, while previous work on spectral methods has rarely reported such promising performance.