Modern document collections are too large to annotate and curate manually. As increasingly large amounts of data become available, historians, librarians and other scholars increasingly need to rely on automated systems to efficiently and accurately analyze the contents of their collections and to find new and interesting patterns therein. Modern techniques in Bayesian text analytics are becoming wide spread and have the potential to revolutionize the way that research is conducted. Much work has been done in the document modeling community towards this end,though most of it is focused on modern, relatively clean text data. We present research for improved modeling of document collections that may contain textual noise or that may include real-valued metadata associated with the documents. This class of documents includes many historical document collections. Indeed, our specific motivation for this work is to help improve the modeling of historical documents, which are often noisy and/or have historical context represented by metadata. Many historical documents are digitized by means of Optical Character Recognition(OCR) from document images of old and degraded original documents. Historical documents also often include associated metadata, such as timestamps,which can be incorporated in an analysis of their topical content. Many techniques, such as topic models, have been developed to automatically discover patterns of meaning in large collections of text. While these methods are useful, they can break down in the presence of OCR errors. We show the extent to which this performance breakdown occurs. The specific types of analyses covered in this dissertation are document clustering, feature selection, unsupervised and supervised topic modeling for documents with and without OCR errors and a new supervised topic model that uses Bayesian nonparametrics to improve the modeling of document metadata. We present results in each of these areas, with an emphasis on studying the effects of noise on the performance of the algorithms and on modeling the metadata associated with the documents. In this research we effectively: improve the state of the art in both document clustering and topic modeling; introduce a useful synthetic dataset for historical document researchers; and present analyses that empirically show how existing algorithms break down in the presence of OCR errors.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Computer Science



Date Submitted


Document Type





topic modeling, Bayesian nonparametrics, ocr, text mining, text analytics, document clustering, clustering, feature selection, unsupervised learning, machine learning