A Latent Variable Model Approach to PMI-based Word Embeddings

Semantic word embeddings represent the meaning of a word via a vector, and are created by diverse methods. Many use nonlinear operations on co-occurrence statistics, and have hand-tuned hyperparameters and reweighting methods. This paper proposes a new generative model, a dynamic version of the log-linear topic model of~\citet{mnih2007three}. The methodological novelty is to use the prior to compute closed form expressions for word statistics. This provides a theoretical justification for nonlinear models like PMI, word2vec, and GloVe, as well as some hyperparameter choices. It also helps explain why low-dimensional semantic embeddings contain linear algebraic structure that allows solution of word analogies, as shown by~\citet{mikolov2013efficient} and many subsequent papers. Experimental support is provided for the generative model assumptions, the most important of which is that latent word vectors are fairly uniformly dispersed in space.

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