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Classifying Texts With Naive Bayes

I continue my series on Naive Bayes with another hand-calculation post:

Step two is, on the surface, pretty tough: how do we figure out if a set of words is a business phrase or a baseball phrase? We could try to think up a set of features. For example, how long is the phrase? How many unique words does it have? Is there a pile of sunflower seeds near the phrase? But there’s an easier way.

Remember the “naive” part of Naive Bayes: all features are independent. And in this case, we can use as features the individual words. Therefore, the probability of a word being a baseball-related word or a business-related word is what matters, and we cross-multiply those probabilities to determine if the overall phrase is a baseball phrase or a business phrase.

Click through for a sports-heavy example and a bonus Nate Barkerson reference.