Inferring Aspect-Specific Opinion Structure in Product Reviews

Title: Inferring Aspect-Specific Opinion Structure in Product Reviews
Authors: Carter, David
Date: 2015
Abstract: Identifying differing opinions on a given topic as expressed by multiple people (as in a set of written reviews for a given product, for example) presents challenges. Opinions about a particular subject are often nuanced: a person may have both negative and positive opinions about different aspects of the subject of interest, and these aspect-specific opinions can be independent of the overall opinion on the subject. Being able to identify, collect, and count these nuanced opinions in a large set of data offers more insight into the strengths and weaknesses of competing products and services than does aggregating the overall ratings of such products and services. I make two useful and useable contributions in working with opinionated text. First, I present my implementation of a semi-supervised co-training machine classification method for identifying both product aspects (features of products) and sentiments expressed about such aspects. It offers better precision than fully-supervised methods while requiring much less text to be manually tagged (a time-consuming process). This algorithm can also be run in a fully supervised manner when more data is available. Second, I apply this co-training approach to reviews of restaurants and various electronic devices; such text contains both factual statements and opinions about features/aspects of products. The algorithm automatically identifies the product aspects and the words that indicate aspect-specific opinion polarity, while largely avoiding the problem of misclassifying the products themselves as inherently positive or negative. This method performs well compared to other approaches. When run on a set of reviews of five technology products collected from Amazon, the system performed with some demonstrated competence (with an average precision of 0.83) at the difficult task of simultaneously identifying aspects and sentiments, though comparison to contemporaries' simpler rules-based approaches was difficult. When run on a set of opinionated sentences about laptops and restaurants that formed the basis of a shared challenge in the SemEval-2014 Task 4 competition, it was able to classify the sentiments expressed about aspects of laptops better than any team that competed in the task (achieving 0.72 accuracy). It was above the mean in its ability to identify the aspects of restaurants about which people expressed opinions, even when co-training using only half of the labelled training data at the outset. While the SemEval-2014 aspect-based sentiment extraction task considered only separately the tasks of identifying product aspects and determining their polarities, I take an extra step and evaluate sentences as a whole, inferring aspects and the aspect-specific sentiments expressed simultaneously, a more difficult task that seems more applicable to real-world tasks. I present first results of this sentence-level task. The algorithm uses both lexical and syntactic information in a manner that is shown to be able to handle new words that it has never before seen. It offers some demonstrated ability to adapt to new subject domains for which it has no training data. The system is characterizable by very high precision and weak-to-average recall and it estimates its own confidence in its predictions; this characteristic should make the algorithm suitable for use on its own or for combination in a confidence-based voting ensemble. The software created for and described in the course of this dissertation is made available online.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -