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Using Maximum Entropy for Text Classification (Kamal Nigam, John Lafferty, Andrew McCallum)

by reiver

This paper proposes the use of maximum entropy techniques for text classification. Maximum entropy is a probability distribution estimation technique widely used for a variety of natural language tasks, such as language modeling, part-of-speech tagging, and text segmentation. The underlying principle of maximum entropy is that without external knowledge, one should prefer distributions that are uniform. Constraints on the distribution, derived from labeled training data, inform the technique where to be minimally non-uniform. The maximum entropy formulation has a unique solution which can be found by the improved iterative scaling algorithm. In this paper, maximum entropy is used for text classification by estimating the conditional distribution of the class variable given the document. In experiments on several text datasets we compare accuracy to naive Bayes and show that maximum entropy is sometimes signicantly better, but also sometimes worse. Much future work remains, but the results indicate that maximum entropy is a promising technique for text classification.


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