In a previous post I looked at sentiment analysis of movie reviews using a Deep Neural Network. That involved using pretrained vectors (GLOVE in our case) as a bag of words and fine tuning them for our task.

We will try a different approach to the same problem – using Convolutional Neural Networks (aka Deep Learning). We will take the idea from the image recognition blog and apply it to text classification. The idea is to

- Vectorize at a character level, using just the characters in our text. We don’t use any pretrained vectors for word embeddings.
- Apply multiple convolutional and max pooling layers to the data.
- Generate a final output layer with softmax
- We’re assuming the Convolutional Neural Network will automatically detect the relationship between characters (pooling them into words and further understanding the relationships between words).

Our input data is just vectorizing each character. We take all the unique characters in our data, and the maximum sentence length and transform our input data into maximum_sentence_length X character_count for each sentence. For sentences with less than the maximum_length, we pad the remaining rows with zeros.

I used 2 1-Dimensional convolutional layers with filter size=3, stride=1 and hidden size=64 and relu for the non-linear activation (see the Image Recognition blog for an explanation on this). I also added a pooling layer of size 3 after each convolution.

Finally, I used 2 fully connected layers of sizes 1024 and 256 dropout probability of 0.5 (that should help prevent over fitting. The final layer uses a softmax to generate the output probabilities and we the standard cross entropy function for the loss. The learning is optimized using the Adam optimizer.

Overall the results are very close to the deep neural network. We get 59.2% using CNNs vs 62%. I think the accuracy is the maximum information we can extract from this data. What’s interesting is we used 2 completely different approaches – pretrained word vectors in the Neural Network case, and character level vectors in this Deep Learning case and we got similar results.

Next post we will explore using LSTMs on the same problem.

Source code available on request.