Die Erholunsgzone vor dem D4 Gebäude über dem Brunnen.

Research Seminar - Kenneth Benoit


We are pleased to announce the upcoming Research Seminar on January 20, 2023.

The Institute for Statistics and Mathematics is pleased to invite you to the next research seminar, taking place on campus:

Kenneth Benoit (London School of Economics and Political Science)
A Better Wordscores: Scaling Text With the Class Affinity Model
Friday, January 20, 2023, 10:30 am, Building TC, Room TC.3.03


Probabilistic methods for classifying text form a rich tradition in machine learning and natural language processing. For many important problems, however, class prediction is uninteresting because the class is known, and instead the focus shifts to estimating latent quantities related to the text, such as affect or ideology. We focus on one such problem of interest, estimating the ideological positions of 55 Irish legislators in the 1991 Dáil confidence vote, a challenge brought by opposition party leaders against the then-governing Fianna Fáil party in response to corruption scandals. In this application, we clearly observe support or opposition from the known positions of party leaders, but have only information from speeches from which to estimate the relative degree of support from other legislators. To solve this scaling problem and others like it, we develop a text modeling framework that allows actors to take latent positions on a “gray” spectrum between “black” and “white” polar opposites. We are able to validate results from this model by measuring the influences exhibited by individual words, and we are able to quantify the uncertainty in the scaling estimates by using a sentence-level block bootstrap. Applying our method to the Dáil debate, we are able to scale the legislators between extreme pro-government and pro-opposition in a way that reveals nuances in their speeches not captured by their votes or party affiliations.

Joint work with Patrick O. Perry.

We aim to stream all on-campus talks via Zoom. A direct link to the stream will be posted on our website.

For further information and the seminar schedule, please see:

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