Topic Modeling Using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA)

Kevin Kibe 21 Feb, 2023 • 7 min read


The internet is a wealth of knowledge and information, which may confuse readers and make them use more time and energy looking for accurate information about particular areas of interest. To recognize and analyze content in online social networks (OSNs), there is a need for more effective techniques and tools, especially for those who employ user-generated content (UGC) as a source of data.

In NLP(Natural Language Processing), Topic Modeling identifies and extracts abstract topics from large collections of text documents. It uses algorithms such as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) to identify latent topics in the text and represent documents as a mixture of these topics. Some uses of topic modeling include:

  1. Text classification and document organization
  2. Marketing and advertising to understand customer preferences
  3. Recommendation systems to suggest similar content
  4. News categorization and information retrieval systems
  5. Customer service and support to categorize customer inquiries.

Latent Dirichlet Allocation, a statistical and visual concept, is used to find connections between many documents in a corpus. The Variational Exception Maximization (VEM) technique is used to get the highest probability estimate from the full corpus of text.


Learning Objectives

  • This project aims to perform topic modeling on a dataset of news headlines to show the topics that stand out and uncover patterns and trends in the news.
  • The second objective of this project will be to have a  visual representation of the dominant topics, which news aggregators, journalists, and individuals can use to gain a broad understanding of the current news landscape quickly.
  • Understanding the topic modeling pipeline and being able to implement it.

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.

Table of Contents

Important Libraries in Topic Modeling Project

In a topic modeling project, knowledge of the following libraries plays important roles:

  1. Gensim: It is a library for unsupervised topic modeling and document indexing. It provides efficient algorithms for modeling latent topics in large-scale text collections, such as those generated by search engines or online platforms.
  2. NLTK: The Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) is a library for working with human language data. It provides tools for tokenizing, stemming, and lemmatizing text and for performing part-of-speech tagging, named entity recognition, and sentiment analysis.
  3. Matplotlib: It is a plotting library for Python. It is used for visualizing the results of topic models, such as the distribution of topics over documents or the relationships between words and topics.
  4. Scikit-learn: It is a library for machine learning in Python. It provides a wide range of algorithms for modeling topics, including Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), Non-Negative Matrix Factorization (NMF), and others.
  5. Pandas: It is a library for data analysis in Python. It provides data structures and functions for working with structured data, such as the results of topic models, in a convenient and efficient manner.

Dataset Description of the Topic Modeling Project

The dataset used is from Kaggle’s A million News Headlines. The data contains 1.2 million rows and 2 columns namely “publish date” and “headline text”. “Headline text” column contains news headlines and “publish date” column contains the date the headline was published.


Step 1: Importing Necessary Dependencies

The code below imports the libraries(listed in the introduction section above) needed for our project.

import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

import nltk
from nltk.tokenize import word_tokenize
from nltk.stem import WordNetLemmatizer
from nltk.corpus import stopwords

import gensim
from gensim.corpora import Dictionary
from gensim.models import LdaModel
from gensim.matutils import corpus2csc
from sklearn.feature_extraction.text import CountVectorizer

from wordcloud import WordCloud
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

Step 2: Importing and Reading Dataset

Loading our dataset that is in csv format into a data frame. The code below loads the ‘abcnews-date-text.csv’ file into a data frame named ‘df’.

#loading the file from its local path into a dataframe


Python Code:


 The dataset

Step 3: Data Preprocessing

The code below selects the first 1,000,000 rows in the dataset and drops the rest of the columns except the “headline text” column and then names the new data-frame ‘data.’

data = df.sample(n=100000, axis=0) #to select only a million rows to use in our dataset

data= data['headline_text']  #to extract the headline_text column and give it the variable name data

Next, we perform lemmatization and removal of stop-words from the data.

Lemmatization reduces words to the base root, reducing the dimensionality and complexity of the textual data. We assign WordNetLemmatizer() to the variable. This is important to improve the algorithm’s performance and helps the algorithm focus on the meaning of the words rather than the surface form.

Stop-words are common words like “the” and “a” that often appear in text data but do not carry lots of meaning. Removing them helps reduce the data’s complexity, speeds up the algorithm, and makes it easier to find meaningful patterns.

The code below downloads dependencies for performing lemmatization and removing stop-words, then defines a function to process the data and finally applies the function to our data-frame ‘data.’

# lemmatization and removing stopwords

#downloading dependencies'punkt')'wordnet')'stopwords')

lemmatizer = WordNetLemmatizer()
stop_words = set(stopwords.words("english"))

#function to lemmatize and remove stopwords from the text data
def preprocess(text):
    text = text.lower()
    words = word_tokenize(text)
    words = [lemmatizer.lemmatize(word) for word in words if word not in stop_words]
    return words

#applying the function to the dataset
data = data.apply(preprocess)


 processed data

Step 4: Training the Model

The number of topics is set to 5 (which can be set to as many topics as one wants to extract from the data), the number of passes is 20, and the alpha and eta are set to “auto.” This lets the model estimate the appropriate values. You can experiment with different parameters to see the impact on results.

The code below processes the data to remove words that appear in fewer than 5 documents and those that appear in more than 50% of the data. This ensures that the model does not include words that appear less in the data or more in the data. For example, news headlines in a country will have a lot of mentions of that country which will alter the effectiveness of our model. Then we create a corpus from the filtered data. We then select the number of topics and train the Lda-model, get the topics from the model using ‘show topics’, and then print the topics.

# Create a dictionary from the preprocessed data
dictionary = Dictionary(data)

# Filter out words that appear in fewer than 5 documents or more than 50% of the documents
dictionary.filter_extremes(no_below=5, no_above=0.5)

bow_corpus = [dictionary.doc2bow(text) for text in data]

# Train the LDA model
num_topics = 5
ldamodel = LdaModel(bow_corpus, num_topics=num_topics, id2word=dictionary, passes=20, alpha='auto', eta='auto')

# Get the topics
topics = ldamodel.show_topics(num_topics=num_topics, num_words=10, log=False, formatted=False)

# Print the topics
for topic_id, topic in topics:
    print("Topic: {}".format(topic_id))
    print("Words: {}".format([word for word, _ in topic]))


 the topics extracted| Topic modeling

Step 5: Plotting a Word Cloud for the Topics

Word cloud is a data visualization tool used to visualize the most frequently occurring words in a large amount of text data and can be useful in understanding the topics present in data. It’s important in text data analysis, and it provides valuable insights into the structure and content of the data.

Word cloud is a simple but effective way of visualizing the content of large amounts of text data. It displays the most frequent words in a graphical format, allowing the user to easily identify the key topics and themes present in the data. The size of each word in the word cloud represents its frequency of occurrence so that the largest words in the cloud correspond to the most commonly occurring words in the data.

This visualization tool can be a valuable asset in text data analysis, providing an easy-to-understand representation of the data’s content. For example, a word cloud can be used to quickly identify the dominant topics in a large corpus of news articles, customer reviews, or social media posts. This information can then guide further analysis, such as sentiment analysis or topic modeling, or inform decision-making, such as product development or marketing strategy.

The code below plots word clouds using topic words from the topic id using matplotlib.

# Plotting a wordcloud of the topics 

for topic_id, topic in enumerate(lda_model.print_topics(num_topics=num_topics, num_words=20)):
    topic_words = " ".join([word.split("*")[1].strip() for word in topic[1].split(" + ")])
    wordcloud = WordCloud(width=800, height=800, random_state=21, max_font_size=110).generate(topic_words)
    plt.imshow(wordcloud, interpolation="bilinear")
    plt.title("Topic: {}".format(topic_id))


 Topic 0 and 1| Topic modeling

Topic 0 and 1

 topic 2, 3 and 4| Topic modeling

Topic 2, 3 and 4


Topic modeling is a powerful tool for analyzing and understanding large collections of text data. Topic modeling works by discovering latent topics and the relationships between words and documents, can help uncover hidden patterns and trends in text data and provide valuable insights into the underlying structure of text data.

The combination of powerful libraries such as Gensim, NLTK, Matplotlib, scikit-learn, and Pandas make it easier to perform topic modeling and gain insights from text data. As the amount of text data generated by individuals, organizations, and society continues to grow, the importance of topic modeling and its role in data analysis and understanding is only set to increase.

Feel free to leave your comments, and I hope the article has provided insights into topic modeling with Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) and the various use cases of this algorithm.

The code can be found in my github repository.

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Kevin Kibe 21 Feb 2023

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