Improving Multi-class Text Classification with Naive Bayes

Unknown author (2001-09-01)

There are numerous text documents available in electronic form. More and more are becoming available every day. Such documents represent a massive amount of information that is easily accessible. Seeking value in this huge collection requires organization; much of the work of organizing documents can be automated through text classification. The accuracy and our understanding of such systems greatly influences their usefulness. In this paper, we seek 1) to advance the understanding of commonly used text classification techniques, and 2) through that understanding, improve the tools that are available for text classification. We begin by clarifying the assumptions made in the derivation of Naive Bayes, noting basic properties and proposing ways for its extension and improvement. Next, we investigate the quality of Naive Bayes parameter estimates and their impact on classification. Our analysis leads to a theorem which gives an explanation for the improvements that can be found in multiclass classification with Naive Bayes using Error-Correcting Output Codes. We use experimental evidence on two commonly-used data sets to exhibit an application of the theorem. Finally, we show fundamental flaws in a commonly-used feature selection algorithm and develop a statistics-based framework for text feature selection. Greater understanding of Naive Bayes and the properties of text allows us to make better use of it in text classification.