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

Arora, Sanjeev, Ge, Rong, Halpern, Yoni, Mimno, David, Moitra, Ankur, Sontag, David, Wu, Yichen, Zhu, Michael

Topic models provide a useful method for dimensionality reduction and exploratory data analysis in large text corpora. Most approaches to topic model inference have been based on a maximum likelihood objective. Efficient algorithms exist that approximate this objective, but they have no provable guarantees. Recently, algorithms have been introduced that provide provable bounds, but these algorithms are not practical because they are inefficient and not robust to violations of model assumptions. In this paper we present an algorithm for topic model inference that is both provable and practical. The algorithm produces results comparable to the best MCMC implementations while running orders of magnitude faster.