Exploring dangerous neighborhoods: latent semantic analysis and computing beyond the bounds of the familiar.

Trevor Cohen, Brett Blatter, Vimla Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Certain applications require computer systems to approximate intended human meaning. This is achievable in constrained domains with a finite number of concepts. Areas such as psychiatry, however, draw on concepts from the world-at-large. A knowledge structure with broad scope is required to comprehend such domains. Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) is an unsupervised corpus-based statistical method that derives quantitative estimates of the similarity between words and documents from their contextual usage statistics. The aim of this research was to evaluate the ability of LSA to derive meaningful associations between concepts relevant to the assessment of dangerousness in psychiatry. An expert reference model of dangerousness was used to guide the construction of a relevant corpus. Derived associations between words in the corpus were evaluated qualitatively. A similarity-based scoring function was used to assign dangerousness categories to discharge summaries. LSA was shown to derive intuitive relationships between concepts and correlated significantly better than random with human categorization of psychiatric discharge summaries according to dangerousness. The use of LSA to derive a simulated knowledge structure can extend the scope of computer systems beyond the boundaries of constrained conceptual domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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