Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


An Evaluation of Statistical Approaches to Text Categorization

Yimin Yang

April 1997

Keywords: Text categories, statistical learning, comparative study

This paper is a comparative study of text categorization methods. Fourteen methods are investigated, based on previously published results and newly obtained results from additional experiments. Corpus biases in commonly used document collections are examined using the performance of three classifiers. Problems in previously published experiments are analyzed, and the results of flawed experiments are excluded from the cross-method evaluation. As a result, eleven out of the fourteen methods are remained. A k-nearest neighbor (kNN) classifier was chosen for the performance baseline on several collections; on each collection, the performance scores of other methods were normalized using the score of kNN. This provides a common basis for a global observation on methods whose results are only available on individual collections. Widrow-Hoff, k-nearest neighbor, neural networks and the Linear Least Squares Fit mapping are the top-performing classifiers, while the Rocchio approaches had relatively poor results compared to the other learning methods. KNN is the only learning method that has scaled to the full domain of MEDLINE categories, showing a graceful behavior when the target space grows from the level of one hundred categories to a level of tens of thousands.

12 pages

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