# slides from my R tutorial on Twitter text mining #rstats

July 4, 2011
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(This article was first published on Things I tend to forget » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Update: An expanded version of this tutorial will appear in the new Elsevier book Practical Text Mining and Statistical Analysis for Non-structured Text Data Applications by Gary Miner et. al which is now available for pre-order from Amazon.

In conjunction with the book, I have cleaned up the tutorial code and published it on github.

Last month I presented this introduction to R at the Boston Predictive Analytics MeetUp on Twitter Sentiment.

The goal of the presentation was to expose a first-time (but technically savvy) audience to working in R. The scenario we work through is to estimate the sentiment expressed in tweets about major U.S. airlines. Even with a tiny sample and a very crude algorithm (simply counting the number of positive vs. negative words), we find a believable result. We conclude by comparing our result with scores we scrape from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index web site.

Jeff Gentry’s twitteR package makes it easy to fetch the tweets. Also featured are the plyr, ggplot2, doBy, and XML packages. A real analysis would, no doubt, lean heavily on the tm text mining package for stemming, etc.

Here is the slimmed-down version of the slides:

Special thanks to John Verostek for putting together such an interesting event, and for providing valuable feedback and help with these slides.

Update: thanks to eagle-eyed Carl Howe for noticing a slightly out-of-date version of the score.sentiment() function in the deck. Missing was handling for NA values from match(). The deck has been updated and the code is reproduced here for convenience:


score.sentiment = function(sentences, pos.words, neg.words, .progress='none')
{
require(plyr)
require(stringr)

# we got a vector of sentences. plyr will handle a list
# or a vector as an "l" for us
# we want a simple array ("a") of scores back, so we use
# "l" + "a" + "ply" = "laply":
scores = laply(sentences, function(sentence, pos.words, neg.words) {

# clean up sentences with R's regex-driven global substitute, gsub():
sentence = gsub('[[:punct:]]', '', sentence)
sentence = gsub('[[:cntrl:]]', '', sentence)
sentence = gsub('\\d+', '', sentence)
# and convert to lower case:
sentence = tolower(sentence)

# split into words. str_split is in the stringr package
word.list = str_split(sentence, '\\s+')
# sometimes a list() is one level of hierarchy too much
words = unlist(word.list)

# compare our words to the dictionaries of positive & negative terms
pos.matches = match(words, pos.words)
neg.matches = match(words, neg.words)

# match() returns the position of the matched term or NA
# we just want a TRUE/FALSE:
pos.matches = !is.na(pos.matches)
neg.matches = !is.na(neg.matches)

# and conveniently enough, TRUE/FALSE will be treated as 1/0 by sum():
score = sum(pos.matches) - sum(neg.matches)

return(score)
}, pos.words, neg.words, .progress=.progress )

scores.df = data.frame(score=scores, text=sentences)
return(scores.df)
}