Tag: interactive

Summarizing our Daily News: Clustering 100.000+ Articles in Python

Summarizing our Daily News: Clustering 100.000+ Articles in Python

Andrew Thompson was interested in what 10 topics a computer would identify in our daily news. He gathered over 140.000 new articles from the archives of 10 different sources, as you can see in the figure below.

The sources of the news articles used in the analysis.

In Python, Andrew converted the text of all these articles into a manageable form (tf-idf document term matrix (see also Harry Plotter: Part 2)), reduced these data to 100 dimensions using latent semantic analysis (singular value decomposition), and ran a k-means clustering to retrieve the 10 main clusters. I included his main results below, but I highly suggest you visit the original article on Medium as Andrew used Plotly to generate interactive plots!

Most important words per topic (interactive visual in original article)

The topics structure seems quite nice! Topic 0 involves legal issues, such as immigration, whereas topic 1 seems to be more about politics. Topic 8 is clearly sports whereas 9 is education. Next, Andres inspected which media outlet covers which topics most. Again, visit the original article for interactive plots!

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Media outlets and the topics they cover (interactive version in original article)

In light of the fake news crisis and the developments in (internet) media, I believe Andrew’s conclusions on these data are quite interesting.

I suppose different people could interpret this data and these graphs differently, but I interpret them as the following: when forced into groups, the publications sort into Reuters and everything else.


Every publication in this dataset except Reuters shares some common denominators. They’re entirely funded on ads and/or subscriptions (Vox and BuzzFeed also have VC funding, but they’re ad-based models), and their existence relies on clicks. By contrast, Reuters’s news product is merely the public face of a massive information conglomerate. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a news wire whose coverage includes deep reporting on the affairs of our financial universe, and therefore is charged with a different mandate than the others — arguably more than the New York Times, it must cover all the news, without getting trapped in the character driven reality-TV spectacle that every other citizen of the dataset appears to so heavily relish in doing. Of them all, its voice tends to maintain the most moderate indoor volume, and no single global event provokes larger-than-life outrage, if outrage can be provoked from Reuters at all. Perhaps this is the product of belonging to the financial press and analyzing the world macroscopically; the narrative of the non-financial press fails to accord equal weight to a change in the LIBOR rate and to the policy proposals of a madman, even though it arguably should. Every other publication here seems to bear intimations of utopia, and the subtext of their content is often that a perfect world would materialize if we mixed the right ingredients in the recipe book, and that the thing you’re outraged about is actually the thing standing between us and paradise. In my experience as a reader, I’ve never felt anything of the sort emanate from Reuters.

This should not be interpreted as asserting that the New York Times and Breitbart are therefore identical cauldrons of apoplexy. I read a beautifully designed piece today in the Times about just how common bioluminescence is among deep sea creatures. It goes without saying that the prospect of finding a piece like that in Breitbart is nonexistent, which is one of the things I find so god damned sad about that territory of the political spectrum, as well as in its diametrical opponents a la Talking Points Memo. But this is the whole point: show an algorithm the number of stories you write about deep sea creatures and it’ll show you who you are. At a finer resolution, we would probably find a chasm between the Times and Fox News, or between NPR and the New York Post. See that third cluster up there, where all the words are kind of compressed with lower TfIdf values and nothing sticks out? It’s actually a whole jungle of other topics, and you can run the algorithm on just that cluster and get new groups and distinctions — and one of those clusters will also be a compression of different kinds of stories, and you can do this over and over in a fractal of machine learning. The distinction here is not the only one, but it is, from the aerial perspective of data, the first.

It would be really interesting to see whether more high-quality media outlets, like the New York Times, could be easily distinguished from more sensational outlets, such as Buzzfeed, when more clusters were used, or potentially other text analytics methodology, like latent Dirichlet allocation.

Beer-in-hand Data Science

Beer-in-hand Data Science

Obviously, analysing beer data in high on everybody’s list of favourite things to do in your weekend. Amanda Dobbyn wanted to examine whether she could provide us with an informative categorization the 45.000+ beers in her data set, without having to taste them all herself.

You can find the full report here but you may also like to interactively discover beer similarities yourself in Amanda’s Beer Clustering Shiny App. Or just have a quick look at some of Amanda’s wonderful visualizations below.

A density map of the bitterness (y-axis) and alcohol percentages (x-axis) in the most popular beer styles.
A k-means clustering of each of the 45000 beers in 10 clusters. Try out other settings in Amanda’s Beer Clustering Shiny App.
The alcohol percentages (x), bitterness (y) and cluster assignments of some popular beer styles.


Modelling beer’s bitterness (y) by the number of used hops (x).


114 Years of Phillipine Disasters, Visualized.

114 Years of Phillipine Disasters, Visualized.

It’s easy to think that disasters as devastating as Typhoon Yolanda – the super typhoon that claimed over 7,000 lives in 2013 – only happen once in a lifetime. However, the Philippines got hit a few more times over the past century.


Thinking.Machin.es provides an interactive history of almost every storm, earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, landslide, drought, epidemic, or wildfire to have caused at least 10 deaths in the Philippines between 1901 and 2015. Data was obtained from the rich Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in Belgium. Their interactive visualization is astonishing, just look at the following screenshot:

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Google Facets: Interactive Visualization for Everybody

Google Facets: Interactive Visualization for Everybody

Last week, Google released Facets, their new, open source visualization tool. Facets consists of two interfaces that allow users to investigate their data at different levels.

Facets Overview provides users with a quick understanding of the distribution of values across the variables in their dataset. Overview is especially helpful in detecting unexpected values, missing values, unbalanced distributions, and skewed distributions. Overview will detect all kinds of statistics for every column (i.e., variable) in your dataset, along with some simple vizualizations, such as histograms.

Example of Facets Overview tool

Dive is the name of the second interface of Facets. It provides an intuitive dashboard in which users can explore relationships between data points across the different variables in their dataset. The dashboard is easy to customize and users can control the position, color, and visual representation of each data point based on the underlying values.

Example of Facets Dive tool

Moreover, if the data points have images associated with them, these images can be used as the visual representations of the data points. The latter is especially helpful when Facets is used for its actual purpose: aiding in machine learning processes. The below GIF demonstrates how Facets Dive spots incorrectly labelled images with ease, allowing users to zoom in on a case-by-case level, for instance, to identify a frog that has been erroneously labelled as a cat.

Exploration of the CIFAR-10 dataset using Facets Dive

To use a demo version of the tools with your own data, visit the Facets website. For more details, visit the Facets website or Google’s Research blog on Facets.