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[WSC18] Chronological Dating of Historical Texts Using RNNs

Posted 2 months ago
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Automatic Chronological Dating of Historical Texts Using RNNs


Chronological dating is essential for various tasks such as summarization and document retrieval. This project proposes a novel method of dating historical texts using a Recurrent Neural Network that works both on the character level and the word level. The results show a significant improvement in the accuracy of detection compared to using a word level only RNN. The error span is between 1 year and a century for most cases. Though it achieved a decent performance for the texts originating from the 19th century, the accuracy declines significantly for older texts due to their scarcity and the non-homogeneous distribution of the provided dataset.

Data Collection and Pre-processing

The training data is composed of public domain books collected from Openlibrary, an online project created by Aaron Swartz, Brewster Kahle and others. Wolfram Language supports a Service Connect that allows a direct interaction with the Openlibrary API.

Data Collection

In[106]:= openlibrary = ServiceConnect["OpenLibrary"]

Out[106]= ServiceObject["OpenLibrary", 
 "ID" -> "connection-1f55c291dcb5feaa290ece0cd1c97ed2"]

In[107]:= BookDatabase = <||>;
nbCalls = 0;

In[109]:= GetTextRequest[keys_] := {nbCalls++; 
  Normal@openlibrary["BookText", {"BibKeys" -> {keys}}]}

In[110]:= GetValidTextKey[keys_] := 
   MatchQ[Pause[.1]; Normal@openlibrary["BookText", {"BibKeys" -> {#}}], 
     KeyValuePattern[_ -> _String]] &];
GetFirstText[list_] := FirstCase[list, Except["NotAvailable", _String]]

In[112]:= GetTexts [keys_] := 
     openlibrary["BookText", {"BibKeys" -> RandomSample[keys, UpTo[50]]}]]]]

In[113]:= AddBook[b_] := 
 BookDatabase[b["FirstPublishYear"]] = 
  If[MatchQ[BookDatabase[b["FirstPublishYear"]], _Missing],
   Append[BookDatabase[b["FirstPublishYear"]], GetTexts[b["EditionKey"]]]

In[114]:= AddSubject[subj_String] :=
  (*Database init*)
  BookDatabase = <||>;
  (*Searching books*)
  searchResults = 
     openlibrary["BookSearch", {"Subject" -> subj, MaxItems -> 90}],
    #["HasFulltext"] &];
  (*Downloading Text*)
  GeneralUtilities`MonitoredMap[AddBook, searchResults];
  Print[subj <> " DOWNLOADED!"];
Wolfram Summer Camp\\Dating Historical Texts\\" <> subj <> ".wxf", 


In[115]:= AddSubject /@ {"Religion", "Games", "Drama", "Action", "Adventure", "Horror", 
  "Spirituality", "Poetry", "Fantasy"}

During evaluation of In[115]:= Religion DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Games DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Drama DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Action DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Adventure DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Horror DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Spirituality DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Poetry DOWNLOADED!

During evaluation of In[115]:= Fantasy DOWNLOADED!

Training the Neural Net

RNN Architecture

The project uses a hybrid Word-level and Character-level Recurrent Neural Network. The word-level processing is built on the GloVe model in order to compute vector representations for words. The limitation to using a Word-level only network is that most of old books include words that were not included in the training data for GloVe. Thus, adding a character-level Network Chain seems to improve the prediction accuracy since it helps process previously unseen corpora.

Define the net

In[24]:= net = NetGraph[<|
   "chars" -> {
   "words" -> {
      "GloVe 100-Dimensional Word Vectors Trained on Wikipedia and Gigaword 5 \
   "cat" -> CatenateLayer[],
   "predict" -> {
   NetPort["Characters"] -> "chars",
   NetPort["Words"] -> "words",
   {"chars", "words"} -> "cat",
   "cat" -> "predict" -> NetPort["Date"]
  "Characters" -> NetEncoder[{"Characters", characters}],
  "Date" -> NetDecoder["Scalar"]

Create training data

In[32]:= sample[text_String, n_: 1024] :=
  Module[{len, offset},
   len = StringLength@text;
   offset = RandomInteger[{1, len - n - 1}];
     StringTake[text, {Max[1, offset], Min[len, offset + n - 1]}], n]

In[33]:= getSample[KeyValuePattern[{"FullText" -> text_String, 
     "FirstPublishYear" -> d_DateObject}]] :=
  With[{s = sample[text]},
   <|"Characters" -> s, "Words" -> s, "Date" -> dateToNum@d|>

$samples = 100000;

In[43]:= import = Flatten[Import /@ FileNames["*.wxf", $dataDir, Infinity]];

withDate = Cases[import, KeyValuePattern["FirstPublishYear" -> _DateObject]];
trainingData = 
   Flatten@Table[getSample /@ withDate, Ceiling[$samples/Length[withDate]]], 


results = NetTrain[
  ValidationSet -> Scaled[.25],
  TargetDevice -> "GPU",
  MaxTrainingRounds -> Quantity[8, "Hours"],
  BatchSize -> 48,
  TrainingProgressCheckpointing -> {"Directory", $dataDir <> 
     "Trained_Networks\\", "Interval" -> Quantity[15, "Minutes"]}

In[66]:= trained = results["TrainedNet"];

Save trained net

In[67]:= Export["PredictTextDate.wlnet", trained]

Out[67]= "PredictTextDate.wlnet"


Testing and Results

In[25]:= CalculateAccuracy[title_String] := Module[{text, predDate, actualDate},
  text = processForInput[sample[ResourceData[title]]];
  actualDate = ResourceObject[title]["SourceMetadata"]["Date"];
  predDate = numToDate[net[text]];
    Abs[UnitConvert[DateDifference[actualDate, predDate], "Years"]]], 
   actualDate, DateObject[predDate, "Year"]}

In[50]:= titleList = {"Friends, Romans, Countrymen", "On the Origin of Species", 
   "Agnes Grey", "Alice in Wonderland", "The Pickwick Papers", 
   "The Wheels of Chance", "Pellucidar", 
   "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", "The Emerald City of Oz", 
   "The Old Curiosity Shop", "Adam Bede", "A Study in Scarlet", 
   "Micah Clarke", "Prufrock"};

In[51]:= accuracyList = CalculateAccuracy /@ titleList;

In[52]:= resultsTable = 
   Join[{{"Error", "Actual Date", "Predicted Date"}}, accuracyList], #[[2]] &];

In[53]:= meanAccuracy = N@Mean@accuracyList[[All, 1]]

Out[53]= Quantity[25.8571, "Years"]

Want to test it out?

Dating Historical Texts Microsite We have launched a micro-site that implements the current neural network architecture in order to allow the prediction of publication dates of an input text. Link: Dating Historical Sites Microsite

You can also try testing the code using the Wolfram Code below. Link: Download Code


This project could not have been accomplished without the support, encouragement and insight of my mentor: Mr. Richard Hennigan.

4 Replies

enter image description here - Congratulations! This post is now a Staff Pick as distinguished by a badge on your profile! Thank you, keep it coming!

What kind of test do you need? I just tried a 50 word sample from the Gligamesh epic, including the proper name "enkidu", and got a date of 1862, which is off by a couple millennia. It would be interesting and useful if the micro site could provide some range of dates.

Posted 1 month ago

Thank you for your feedback! This project was conducted in 2 weeks. It is not complete and it has a lot of room for improvement. I did not have enough time to play with the hyper-parameters and the architecture itself. The dataset used is also not optimal, as it is not evenly distributed across the centuries. Again, I appreciate the fact that you tested this version. I will be working on improving the DNN's accuracy in the near future.

I know about the time constraints for the project. A remarkable job. My choice of text was random -- just from the bookshelf next to my desk, and of course, being a translation, it will be harder to identify the date of writing. Thanks for pointing me to the Open Library. It looks like it might be useful for out-of-print books, among other things. I miss having access to a University library.

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