Sci-Advent – New study tests machine learning on detection of borrowed words in world languages

This is a reblog of a story in ScienceDaily. See the original here.

Underwhelming results underscore the complexity of language evolution while showing promise in some current applications

Researchers have investigated the ability of machine learning algorithms to identify lexical borrowings using word lists from a single language. Results show that current machine learning methods alone are insufficient for borrowing detection, confirming that additional data and expert knowledge are needed to tackle one of historical linguistics’ most pressing challenges.

Lexical borrowing, or the direct transfer of words from one language to another, has interested scholars for millennia, as evidenced already in Plato’s Kratylos dialogue, in which Socrates discusses the challenge imposed by borrowed words on etymological studies. In historical linguistics, lexical borrowings help researchers trace the evolution of modern languages and indicate cultural contact between distinct linguistic groups — whether recent or ancient. However, the techniques for identifying borrowed words have resisted formalization, demanding that researchers rely on a variety of proxy information and the comparison of multiple languages.

“The automated detection of lexical borrowings is still one of the most difficult tasks we face in computational historical linguistics,” says Johann-Mattis List, who led the study.

In the current study, researchers from PUCP and MPI-SHH employed different machine learning techniques to train language models that mimic the way in which linguists identify borrowings when considering only the evidence provided by a single language: if sounds or the ways in which sounds combine to form words are atypical when comparing them with other words in the same language, this often hints to recent borrowings. The models were then applied to a modified version of the World Loanword Database, a catalog of borrowing information for a sample of 40 languages from different language families all over the world, in order to see how accurately words within a given language would be classified as borrowed or not by the different techniques.

In many cases the results were unsatisfying, suggesting that loanword detection is too difficult for machine learning methods most commonly used. However, in specific situations, such as in lists with a high proportion of loanwords or in languages whose loanwords come primarily from a single donor language, the teams’ lexical language models showed some promise.

“After these first experiments with monolingual lexical borrowings, we can proceed to stake out other aspects of the problem, moving into multilingual and cross-linguistic approaches,” says John Miller of PUCP, the study’s co-lead author.

“Our computer-assisted approach, along with the dataset we are releasing, will shed a new light on the importance of computer-assisted methods for language comparison and historical linguistics,” adds Tiago Tresoldi, the study’s other co-lead author from MPI-SHH.

The study joins ongoing efforts to tackle one of the most challenging problems in historical linguistics, showing that loanword detection cannot rely on mono-lingual information alone. In the future, the authors hope to develop better-integrated approaches that take multi-lingual information into account.

Using lexical language models to detect borrowings in monolingual wordlistsPLOS ONE, 2020; 15 (12): e0242709 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242709

Sci-Advent – Challenges in Deploying Machine Learning: a Survey of Case Studies

This survey paper extracts practical considerations from recent case studies of a variety of ML applications and is organized into sections that correspond to stages of a typical machine learning workflow: from data management and model learning to verification and deployment.

In recent years, machine learning has received increased interest both as an academic research field and as a solution for real-world business problems. However, the deployment of machine learning models in production systems can present a number of issues and concerns. This survey reviews published reports of deploying machine learning solutions in a variety of use cases, industries and applications and extracts practical considerations corresponding to stages of the machine learning deployment workflow. Our survey shows that practitioners face challenges at each stage of the deployment. The goal of this paper is to layout a research agenda to explore approaches addressing these challenges.

Statistics and Data Visualisation with Python

Right!!! It is early December and this post has been in the inkwell for a few months now. Earlier in the year I received the comments and suggestions from reviewers and the final approval from the excellent team at CRC Press for my 4th book.

After a few weeks of frank procrastination and a few more on structuring the thoughts proposed a bit more, I have got a clear head to start writing. So I am pleased to announce that I am officially starting to write “Statistics and Data Visualisation with #Python”.

“Statistics and Data Visualisation with Python” builds from the ground up the basis for statistical analysis underpinning a number of applications and algorithms in business analytics, machine learning and applied machine learning. The book will cover the basics of programming in python as well as data analysis to build a solid background in statistical methods and hypothesis testing useful in a variety of modern applications.

Stay tuned!

Now Reading: Dark Data

Now Reading: Dark Data by David Hand

I first came across a mention of this book in the Summer 2020 number of Imperial, the magazine for the Imperial College Community in a feature note about the book.

It sounded like an interesting read and I had a look for the Princeton University Press book and to my surprise I found an version in Italian published by Rizzoli a few months earlier… I wonder how that worked out. It was cheaper and I was tempted to give it a go in Italian with the name Il tradimento dei numeri (i.e. “The betrayal of the numbers”…). I wonder what hidden story is behind all this…

In the end I decided to go for the English version… Let’s see how it goes.

David Hand is emeritus professor of mathematics at Imperial College London, a former president of the Royal Statistical Society, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

There is a website dedicated to the book:

Data Skeptic Podcast

I had an opportunity to be one of the panellists in the Data Skeptic podcast recently. It was great to have been invited and as a listener to the podcast it was a really treat to be able to take part. Also, recording it was fun…

You can listen to the episode here.

More information about the Data Skeptic Journal Club can be found in their site. I would like to thank  Kyle Polich, Lan Guo and George Kemp for having me as a guest. I hope it is not the last time!

In the episode Kyle talks about the relationship between Covid-19 and Carbon Emissions. George tells us about the new Hateful Memes Challenge from Facebook. Lan joins us to talk about Google’s AI Explorables. I talk about a paper that uses neural networks to detect infections in the ear.

Let me know what you guys think!

Natural Language Processing Talk – Newspaper Article

With the lockdown and social distancing rules forcing all of us to adjust our calendars, events and even lesson plans and lectures, I was not surprised to hear of speaking opportunities that otherwise may not arise.

A great example is the reprise of a talk I gave about a year ago while visiting Mexico. It was a great opportunity to talk to Social Science students at the Political Science Faculty of the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México. The subject was open but had to cover the use of technology and I thought that talking about the use of natural language processing in terms of digital humanities would be a winner. And it was…

In March this year I was approached by the Faculty to re-run the talk but this time instead of doing it face to face we would use a teleconference room. Not only was I, the speaker, talking from the comfort of my own living room, but also all the attendees would be at home. Furthermore, some of the students may not have access to the live presentation (lack of broadband, equipment, etc) and recoding the session for later usage was the best option for them.

I didn’t hesitate in saying yes, and I enjoyed the interaction a lot. Today I learnt that the session was the focus of a small note in a local newspaper. The session was run in Spanish and the note in Portal, the local newspaper, is in Spanish too. I really liked that they picked a line I used in the session to convince the students that technology is not just for the natural sciences:

“Hay que hacer ciencias sociales con técnicas del Siglo XIX… El mundo es de los geeks.

“We should study social sciences applying techniques of the 21st Century. The world today belongs to us, the geeks.

The point is that although qualitative and quantitative techniques are widely used in social science, the use of new platforms and even programming languages such as python open up opportunities for social scientists too.

The talk is available in the blog the class uses to share their discussions: The Share Knowledge Network – Follow this link for the talk.

The newspaper article by Ximena Barragán can be found here.

Advanced Data Science and Analytics with Python is published


It is official! “Advanced Data Science and Analytics with Python” is published!

According to the information I had received from CRC Press, my publisher, the book would be available on May 7th. According to the official page of the book the volume was available since May 5th.

So if you have already preorder, your copies may be on their way soon. If not, you can definitely get your copy either with CRC Press, or Amazon.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of the book.

Advanced Data Science and Analytics with Python – Discount

I am reaching out as volume 2 of my data science book will be out for publication in May and my publisher has made it possible for me to offer 20% off. You can order the book here.

This follows from “Data Science and Analytics with Python” and both books are intended for practitioners in data science and data analytics in both academic and business environments.

The new book aims to present the reader with concepts in data science and analytics that were deemed to be more advanced or simply out of scope in the author’s first book, and are used in data analytics using tools developed in Python such as SciKit Learn, Pandas, Numpy, etc. The use of Python is of particular benefit given its recent popularity in the data science community. The book is therefore a reference to be used by seasoned programmers and newcomers alike and the key benefit is the practical approach presented throughout the book

More information about the first book can be found here.

Jackalope Data Science – Community Call

With all the changes that have taken place in the las couple of weeks, I was thinking of the support that we can provide to each other while keeping to the new ways of working around us. Working from home is nothing new for some, but not for many. Socialising is an important part of the human experience.

I therefore thought of putting an open invite for a virtual coffee to the data science/physics/maths community dealing with the new ways of working, business, mental health and general stuff:

The response was great and I promptly created a new page in this site dedicated to some information for the new Jackalope Data Science Community. The first call took place on March 26th, 6.30pm via Meet. There were about 12 attendees mainly from the UK, with some from Cyprus, the US and other places around the world.

It was great to see so many friends there and the chat ranged from how to distinguish between weekdays and weekends these days, to how we are coping with working from home and how companies and businesses are reacting. It was entertaining, and personally I found it very useful.

We are planning to get together again in a couple of weeks. If you are interested to join us and learn more the Jackalope Data Science Community, get in touch.