Newspapers and Location-specific Coverage

The Daily Star and The New Age are two English Newspapers that are considered two of the top sources of information in Bangladesh among all the other English Newspapers. The Daily Star has been there for quite some time and New Age is relatively young, although I have been told by a few that New Age has been catching up in the race. While thinking about ways to visualize data from newspapers, I decided to compare the efficiency of these two newspapers in terms of news coverage.

Now, I’m sure news coverage can be interpreted/defined in many ways, but here I refer to the geographic aspect. Although most of the news in such “national” newspapers revolve around the incidents in Dhaka and Chittagong (the two main divisions (also cities) of Bangladesh), occasionally we notice news from areas of less interest/importance. In a big country like the USA, the notion of a “national” newspaper is ridiculous, but in a small country like Bangladesh every Dhaka (the capital) based newspaper claims to provide  glimpse of all major incidents around the country.

Every newspaper usually has correspondents in distant regions, usually all the major cities. My main goal was to carry out controlled experiments to see how many news has been covered from each district and metropolitan cities including and excluding Dhaka and Chittagong over a fixed period of time. Hopefully that would provide a way to compare the two newspapers’ commitment to reach out all the districts and cities of Bangladesh.

The Experiments

DS has an online archive that starts from 2002. However, NA only has a news archive starting from 2011. So I decided to run all the experiments from 01-01-2011 to 02-28-2012 for both the newspapers, a period of 423 days overall.


Figure 1. Barcharts for (Left) All metropolitan cities, (Right) all districts of Bangladesh. The left panel in the charts show the number of news covered by DS and likewise, the right panels show the figures for NA. (click to view the names of the districts)

Oh my! Just look at the number of news covered for Dhaka! It clearly outweighs the numbers for all other cities (or districts) in both the newspapers. Surprisingly, NA does not give a peak for Chittagong like DS does, one possible reason is its use of ‘ctg’ as an abbreviation of Chittagong in many places. My program only parses for the word “Chittagong” in all the news.

DS has a lot more news per city/district over the 423 days period compared to NA.

Figure 2. The same barchart for districts, but this time, Dhaka and Chittagong districts are excluded to magnify the relative coverage for all the districts. Click on the image to view the districts.

Excluding Dhaka and Chittagong, we see some efforts on both newspapers’ sides to cover more news in places of higher business interests, such as Rajshahi, Sylhet, Bogra, Khulna etc. However, DS has a clear win over NA here; the length of their bars are too visible.


All of these data and figures would look much better if we could see a geographic representation of these comparisons. Following are some vis. that represent the above data in a slightly different but more intuitive way. Since DA clearly dominates NA in terms of number of news per district, I wanted to create a visualization of the magnitude of their differences on a map of Bangladesh.

Click and zoom in to view clearer pictures.


Figure 3. Bangladesh’s map and a textual representation of the magnitude of the difference in the number of news covered per district. The transparency and color of the texts are varied according to the magnitude.

For these visualizations, I have taken Dhaka and Chittagong out of the calculations. In the above visualization, for each district, the number of news reported by NA was subtracted from the number of news reported by DS. After obtaining these difference values for the 62 districts (not 64, since I excluded Dhaka and Chittagong), I scaled them to [0, 1]. The transparency and color of the texts in the map are set accordingly – more opaque and reddish means more difference between the newspapers for a particular district.

A stark difference between the two newspapers exist in some districts, e.g. Rajshahi, Dinarjpur, Rangpur and Satkhira. DS covers more news in those areas compared to NA. In many other areas, the differences are less pronounced, hence, those areas are more transparent.

The following visualization is a similar one, only this time bubbles are embedded with texts to emphasize the areas of interest.


Figure 4. Circles of radius, transparency and color map proportional to the difference between the news coverage of Daily Star and New Age.

Areas of No Coverage

Daily Star outperformed New Age so far it seems. However, this was just a relative measurement. Both newspapers were found to ignore some areas of Bangladesh in my data. Now, it could be the flaw of data in some cases, as described in the Methods section. Assuming no flaws, the following districts were ignored (not even a single mention over the 423 days period) by both DS and NA:

Gopalganj, Lakshmipur,  Narsingdi.

Some of the municipal cities that were ignored by DS were:

Bhanga, Chenger, Damudiya, Galachipa, Goalunda, Jibannagar, Kalapara, Kuliar Char, Maheshpur, Mehendiganj, Mirkadim, Muktagacha, Nandail, Adamdighi, Shailkupa, Ullapara, Swarupkathi, Nilphamari, etc.

Some of the municipal cities ignored by NA (in addition to the above) were:

Abhaynagar, Akhaura, Alamdanga, Bakarganj, Bhola, Bhuapur, Birampur, Bochanganj, Chakaria, Char Fasson, Charghat, Daganbhuiyan, Damurhuda, Durgapur, Kaunia, Madhabpur, Muksudpur, Nabinagar, Sitakunda, Swarupkathi and quite a few more.

I would like to come back to this data when I get some time and make some more vis. to show the stats for no-coverage vividly. Not all the cities were mentioned above, the lists were actually bigger for both newspapers.


Parsing the online news archives was described in this post.

GIS Integration: The map polygons data for Bangladesh can be downloaded from Geocommons or the World Bank website. The polygon description file is in the format .shp that Mathematica can read since its 7th version. I read in the .shp file to create a blank map polygon set at first. The latitudes and longitudes data for each district were found using the Yahoo Map API, not the Google Map API (that is more reliable) simply because of all the protocol hassles it presents to each query sent to the service.

Integrating and visualizing the polygon set and the latt. and long. data were straightforward using the geometry and graphics primitives of Mathematica.

What’s Next?

There’s so much that can actually be done with such data to compare newspapers. I have only presented some info. vis., but some statistical analysis done on such data may provide much more insights into the performance and commitment of newspapers. I have not searched to see if there has been any previous research done in this direction, the next goal (on this idea) for me will be to do some literature search, if I ever decide to come back to this data to do something more in the future! 🙂


The idea was to create some sort of visual representation of all negative emotions/facts in a Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star. By negative emotions here I mean news regarding death, accidents, robbery, abduction, rape, bribing, arson and any natural calamity.

Following are images that are in the first installment of the series Abyss. Abyss is one of my efforts to visualize emotions/facts through computational art. The images were programmed and generated using Mathematica.

Each circle represents the crime, disaster and calamity news per district or municipal cities every three months, starting from September 2007 to June 2012. Each bar in a circle represents a city or a district, with its angle and height being proportional to the number of such news reported by Daily Star for that region. A sequence of circles thus represents a timeline of negative emotions going from the present to the past.

Click to view larger versions of these images.

Abyss 1. A timeline of crime news reported for the districts of Bangladesh.

Abyss 2. Timeline of crime news reported for all cities of Bangladesh.

Abyss 3. Timeline of crime news reported for all the municipal cities of Bangladesh.

Method: The data were collected by parsing through the online archive of Daily Star. The online archive data were downloaded using Mathematica for each date and the news were matched against a set of predefined words (along with their inflected forms) to separate the crime/disaster reports, then these selected news were parsed again to look for cities and district names in them. The names of cities and districts were parsed from this website.

A matrix containing the count for each city/district (columns) every three months (rows) was updated at each iteration of this parsing. The data in the matrix is then visualized as described above. All of these operations and visualization were done using Mathematica.

Analyzing Tagore’s Literature (Part 2)

In part 1, I employed Bose-Einstein distribution to find out how the “temperature” of Tagore’s writing varies across different novels. In part 2, I delve into Zipf’s power law and similarity metrics used to compare high dimensional vectors in order to analyze the lexical wealth and similarity across different novels and short stories written by the legend.

Zipf’s Law

In fractal theory, Zipf’s power law on linguistics is a tried and accepted heuristic to compare large texts [1]. This power law statistics, derived from the behavior of certain kind of fractals, can be used in many other disciplines too. In simple terms, Zipf’s law is stated as: N = Ak^(-\phi).

Taking logs on both sides: log(N) = log(A) – \phi * log(k)

we get a linear equation. Here, N is the total number of words in a corpus, k is the ratio of the number of distinct words n to N. A is a constant amplitude and phi is a phase value that is unique for a given author. Using simple regression analysis, it is possible to find a characteristic phi for any author. The law merely dictates a simple fact: as the text size increases, the number of distinct words decreases. At what rate this happens is a question that is related to the expertise of a writer in maintaining variability of words and sentence structures over the course of his novels.


The following table shows n, N and k values for the same set of novels in part 1.


The following table shows the same data for a collection of short stories.


 Note the higher values of k for the short stories. This could be mainly due to the smaller size of the text.


Figure 1. (Left) Data points in the Log(k)-Log(N) plane, and a linear fit equation showing the characteristic gradient \phi. (Right) Same experiment done on the short stories.

Figure 2. The linear fit equations for novels and stories on the same plot (red – stories, blue – novels). Clearly it demonstrates that the rate at which Tagore’s lexical wealth k falls is higher for novels. This could be due to the difference in the text size though.

Heap’s Law

Heap’s law is similar to Zipf’s law. It’s a power law that describes how the number of unique elements in a set of randomly chosen elements grow as the size of the set increases. In our case, we would expect to see that the number of unique words increase as we increase the size of the text.


Figure 3. (Left) Heap’s law demonstrated for novels (log(n) vs. log(N) plot), (right) for short stories.

Figure 4. The two linear fit equations on the same plot (red – short stories, blue – novels). This demonstrates that although the number of distinct words used in short stories prevail for a short size of text, ultimately the novels take over as the size of the text increases. This may indicate a better effort on Tagore’s side to polish and revise his novels to amplify the lexical wealth, whereas, statistically, this may be less true for his short stories.

 Similarity Measure

The variability of distinct words across a set of novels or short stories can be captured by feature vectors – essentially rows of numbers in a document-term matrix. Comparing these high dimensional vectors to infer the similarity between short stories and novels of Tagore might be useful. Here, I use two schemes to compare these high dimensional vectors. One is the cosine of the angle between two vectors, and the other is the L2-norm of the difference between two vectors. These schemes project the high dimensional vectors to scalar values that can be easily compared. Histograms from all possible pair combinations are produced to analyze how similar or different are the span of the words used in short stories or novels.


Figure 5. (Left) Histograms from L2-normed difference scheme, (right) from cosine scheme. Red – short stories, blue – novels. Note the bimodal distribution for both novels and stories, except the cosine heuristic for short stories. It seems there are two principal modes of similarity among all novels and stories. Although this could be just a statistical property of texts that I am not aware of.

Note the width of novels histograms in both cases; they are wider than those of stories’. For the cosine scheme the novels histogram has a mode that’s closer to 1.0, whereas the average peak for stories histogram is farther from 1.0. These two observations mean that similar words and sentence structure recur themselves throughout novels, more than short stories. This is consistent with the inferences drawn in part 1 and Zipf’s and Heap’s laws for Tagore’s work.

Comparing Upendrakishor Raychowdhury’s Work

One last thing I try here is to see how these measures can be used to compare different authors’ works. Although my aim was to compare Kazi Najrul Islam with Tagore, unfortunately I could not find any of his work in text form. Instead, I found Upendrakishor Raychowdhury’s short stories collection and decided to compare the lexical wealth between the two authors’ stories collection. It should be noted that lexical wealth is only one of the (measurable) heuristics to compare authors. Most of the comparisons in the field of literature are qualitative and depend on the taste of readers and critics. Nonetheless, the lexical wealth does say a lot about the author’s expertise in not being monotonous.

The following table shows UR’s short stories that I have collected, along with their k values.


Figure 6. (Left) Zipf’s law linear fit for UR’s short stories. (Right) Zipf’s law linear fits for both UR’s (red) and Tagore’s (blue) short stories. Although it seems that UR has an upper hand with Tagore (smaller falloff rate as we increase the lexical wealth k), it would be dubious to claim that UR is better at not being monotonous. It’s quite risky to draw conclusions based on such a small margin, lack of adequate data is another issue. I could say something clearly if I had a collection of hundreds of stories from both writers. 🙂


In part 1 I found out that a possible characteristic falloff of the lexical wealth may exist for Tagore’s writings. The experiments here in part 2 restate a celebrated fact in linguistics: every author has a natural limit after which his writings give way to being monotonous in terms of repeating words and sentence structures. Rabindranath Tagore was not so different from the group of his contemporary writers. It will be interesting to see how his works compare with other contemporary works when/if I get enough data. 🙂

[1] L. L. Goncalves, L. B. Goncalves, Fractal power law in literary English, Physica A 360 (2006) 557 – 575.

Analyzing Tagore’s Literature (Part 1)

Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate for literature in 1913, has been one of my favorite authors of all time. In my series of summer weekend projects, among other things, I have collected some novels and short stories written by this author in unicode text format and analyzed the behavior of their lexical growth, hoping to find specific patterns in his writing. Part 1 of this investigation employs one of the DFR (Divergence From Randomness) models, namely the Bose-Einstein statistics that was originally derived by Satyendranath Bose (a physicist at the University of Dhaka) in 1924 as one of the emerging quantum ensemble models that was later backed up by Einstein in 1925.

Bose-Einstein Distribution

Bose-Einstein distribution has recently found its application outside the realm of describing the energy level occupation of bosons. Such applications include describing the statistics of low frequency words in a large text corpus [1]. It’s always interesting to investigate how a mathematical model describing a physical phenomenon can be  used as an analogy to another problem. Here, words are analogous to boson particles, which have the characteristic that they are indistinguishable from each other. Unlike Fermions, for example, there is no limit to the number of bosons that can occupy a quantum state. This property of bosons makes the related statistics suitable for analyzing words that have the same occurrence frequency in the corpus. An important aspect of using such analogy is temperature. What does it mean for a piece of text to have “temperature”? As demonstrated in [1] and here, it can describe and distinguish between different authors or different novels written by the same author. It may also describe how the lexical wealth of a piece of writing evolves as we read through it.

The Model

The Bose-Einstein distribution describes the occupation of bosons at specific energy levels. An energy level is specified by j = 1, 2, …, n. The level j = 1 corresponds to the Bose-Einstein condensate. Here, as an analogy of this condensate, the authors of [1] call the initial energy state hapax legomena. This Greek term originates from Biblical studies, it translates to “[something] said [only] once”. That is, words that occur only once will be put in the first energy level. Words with frequency 2 will occupy the level j = 2, and so on. The occupation of an energy level j is given as:


z is the absolute activity, or fugacity, epsilon is the energy of the jth level and T is the temperature. The power energy spectrum for epsilon is given by


where \alpha is a constant that can be determined by fitting. z is determined from the first energy level using


and with the new definition of the power spectrum the B-E distribution now looks like


The parameters \alpha and T are to be simultaneously determined by fitting the data present in the occupation matrix (a matrix that contains the occupation distribution for each level j) using a nonlinear regression.


A document-term matrix is created from the set of novels or stories that are to be analyzed. Then for each energy level j, the number of distinct words that have a frequency equal to j is found and saved in the occupation matrix. Now, each row in the matrix has the occupation levels distribution. By fitting the parameters for each row of data, we obtain T for the low frequency words (lower energy levels). In the case of texts, the B-E distribution does not turn out to capture the statistics of the higher energy levels quite well.

In order to see how T evolves with N (the number of words) in a novel, I divide the particular novel corpus into cumulatively increasing chunks of texts and do the above for each chunk.

Mathematica is the choice of programming language for all of these operations. 🙂

Results and Analysis

I have run the programs on a set of eight novels: Bou Thakuranir Haat, Chokher Bali, Ghore Baire, Gora, Noukadubi, Projapotir Nirbondho, Rajorshi and Shesher Kobita. All the novels and other short stories are collected from [2].


Figure 1. (a) Occupation matrix for all novels, colors represent the magnitude of occupation in each cell. Note the variability of words frequency for each novel. Novel #4 (Gora) is the largest in this set. It exhibits quite a variable frequency compared to others. (b) Occupation vs. j log-log plot for Bou Thakuranir Haat for the first 1000 energy levels. The blue line is the fit found for the first 20 energy levels (low frequency words).

Chokher Bali: This novel contains ~70000 words. The occupation matrix and the characteristic temperature curve is shown below.

Figure 2. (a) Occupation matrix for Chokher Bali. As the number of chunks increases, we find some amount of variability. (b) Temperature vs. N graph, the points are joined together with broken lines, not a fit. Note the rise of temperature until the middle of the novel and a gradual decrease as the size of the text increases.

Gora: This one is the largest in my collection, ~180000 words.

Figure 3. (a) Occupation matrix for Gora. Note that a lot of variability shows up as we increase the size of the text. There is a certain visible pyramid-like pattern. This regularity may indicate recurring usage of word sets over the course of the novel. (b) Temperature as the size of the text grows.

Noukadubi: This is one of the shorter novels, containing ~40000 words.

Figure 4. (a) Occupation matrix for Noukadubi. A similar pyramid structure is notable. (b) T vs. N graph.

Temperature Evolution Comparison

The novels usually have a rise in temperature for up to ~30000 words or so, then we see that they fall off. What does it mean in terms of the physical analog?


 The figure on the left shows all the temperatures on the same plot, and on the right are a set of exponential fits for the first 25000 words. Since they resemble a Boltzmann-like distribution, I could have done a fit using that equation. Oh well! 🙂


I wonder if the peak in temperature at around 30000 words mark is a characteristic of Tagore’s writing (critical/transition temperature?). Note that temperature here refers to the net amount of variability of different frequencies for low frequency, i.e. rare words. Different authors have different styles of writing. One may sit and finish a large piece in one go and never come back to it. However, many authors do come back to the same piece again to hone the variability of words.

In literature, lexical wealth is a measure of the author’s ability to use different set of words. Every author has a natural limit though, rare words that describe particular events must cycle around in the novel. The results here could be the first step in showing that Rabindranath Tagore’s large piece of writings usually maintain a fairly distinct word frequency structure until around an approximately fixed word limit (~30000 to 50000), then it breaks and gives way – the rare words and sentence structures start repeating and cycling more often as the size of a novel increases. This claim, however, should be viewed with doubt as more experiments are needed to confirm this. This in general should be true for any author, but finding a characteristic falloff for Tagore is quite interesting.

Part 2 of my analysis uses power laws derived in fractal theory and similarity measures used in high dimensional data analysis to find out more about the lexical wealth of Tagore’s writings.

[1] Application of a quantum ensemble model to linguistic analysis, A. Rovenchak, S. Buk, Physica A 390 (2011), 1326-1331.


Binary Clock

There are some hobby projects that happen by accident. Meaning, you have an idea and you start working on it, only to find out one of the following in the midway: (1) it’s going nowhere, your initial plan was flawed or you didn’t take account of certain important things, (2) it’s going somewhere, but it will take much more work than you planned, (3) it’s working (yay!). For (1) and (2), sometimes I end up doing something else (definitely not my original plan) using the work done so far. Sometimes these projects are also quite trivial, as there are constraints put up by the previous plan and existing equipment/code that you already built.

There are some varieties of binary hand watches in the market. Last night I was working on an idea that involves controlling a few servo motors based on some sequences. I hooked up some LEDs instead of the servos to see whether my algorithm is producing the correct sequence. Eventually I got tired trying to debug the algorithm and realized I am taking route (2). :p Then I thought why not leave the current project for the next weekend and do something else with this setup? The first easiest idea that came to mind was to make a binary clock with the LEDs!


Unfortunately I had only eight LEDs at my disposal (or, I could only find eight at that time), so I had to cut down the resolution of the clock. I allocated four LEDs for keeping count of hours and four for minutes. The decimal number 15 is the maximum, starting from 0, to fit into a 4-element binary vector. Hence, the minutes can be shown with a resolution of 4 min. (60/15 min.), i.e. the time shown will have a total uncertainty of 4 min.

My LEDs have higher power rating compared to normal LEDs, they are really bright once they light up. When working with them I put a paper cap on top just to make sure I can look at them! These caps are made by cutting pieces off from a paper folder, wrapping those around the neck of the LED and gluing the paper ends together.


Figure1 . (Right) Making caps for my LEDs, (Left) Connecting with Arduino.

The circuit is very basic. The LEDs are connected to the digital pins on my Arduino microcontroller through 220 ohms resistors. The LED ground pins are connected to the ground pin on the Arduino through a common ground channel on my breadboard.


I decided to use Matlab for this since I was initially using Matlab to control the servos through the Arduino (using Matlab’s own ArduinoIO library). Here’s the small code that takes the current system time, converts the hours and minutes to binary representation, which is taken as a state vector, and sends signals to the arduino based on the current state of the state vector. All the LEDs representing 0’s are lit up and the 1’s are made to blink.

% matlab + arduino binary clock

pins = [2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 9; 10];
states = zeros(size(pins,1),1);
bstates = zeros(size(pins,1),1);

for i = 1:length(pins)
    a.pinMode(pins(i), 'output');

ct = 0;

while true
    % current time
    curt = clock;
    if curt(4) > 12
        curt(4) = curt(4) - 12;
    % convert to binary vector
    hrs = de2bi(round(curt(4)),4);
    mins = de2bi(round(curt(5)/4),4);
    states = [hrs mins]';
    % send signal to the pins, make the 1's blink
    for i = 1:length(states)
        if states(i) == 0
            if mod(ct,100) == 0
                if bstates(i) == 1
                    bstates(i) = 0;
                elseif bstates(i) == 0
                    bstates(i) = 1;
    ct = ct + 1;

Pictures and Videos

The first set of LEDs are hours and the second set are minutes.

Figure 2.  Binary clock setup at night. Quite handy as a night light + time keeper when you go to sleep? 😉

The following video shows the clock in action.

The advantage of sending signals from PC and not burning a native arduino program in the controller is live and correct time display. To use a native .ino arduino program, I would have to set the clock time manually using some push switches attached to the board. That’s quite easy to do, but again, I don’t have any of those in my parts collection! 🙂

Painting a Novel

I have always wondered about the possibility of shrinking a book into a picture. I love to read, but there are times when I start reading a novel and discover by page 209 that I am not really liking either the content, the author’s views or simply the plot. If I had an image that said something about the book in a timeline-like manner, that would be pretty useful. Having said that, I am actually talking about the prospect of some of the most difficult challenges in NLP. NLP is not my field and my knowledge is pretty naive in that area. However, I have taken an attempt this weekend to actually create images from two novels and compared those to see how informative they are. The goal was to see how emotions evolve in a novel.  These can be called some basic versions of infographs of novels, however, I have tried to keep the aesthetics of these images in mind so that they do not look too technical… whatever that means.


There can be hundreds of categories to describe the characteristics of a novel even to achieve some sort of accuracy in comparing them. However, I have focused on two broader aspects: sentiment analysis and nature phenomena. Sentiment analysis is a pure NLP problem, the goal is to quantify positive, negative, arousal, sadness etc sentiments in a sentence or a paragraph by matching the words against an existing sentiment/emotion words database. Usually, these databases have scores/stats associated with each word that show the strength of positive or negative emotions. I was hoping a global sentiment analysis might tell me something about how and what kind of emotions show up in the timeline of the novel. The reason for choosing how nature phenomena show up in a novel is quite personal. I am one of those people who love to read descriptions of nature in a novel, it helps me visualize the environment and I feel more attached to the story in many cases.

Data Collection

A nice resource page for sentiment analysis is [1]. I have selected a free database that is available immediately (i.e. you don’t have to request the database and wait for ages to get it). It’s called the AFINN  word list [2]. It has a collection of 2477 words that are collected from Twitter. Each word has been given a score from -5 to +5 (-5 for extreme negative and +5 extreme positive) based on an unsupervised learning algorithm. However, I was not entirely sure whether a list of words collected from twitter feeds could entirely capture the strength of emotions in a novel, especially the ones that were written a century ago (for obvious reasons)! So I found out another list of emotion words [3] that seemed quite helpful category-wise. I manually copied and pasted each category of words  into two text files as seemed appropriate, one for positive emotions and the other for negative emotions. I found a list of ‘Nature’ related words online, I decided to go with it for my experiments.

How it works

I have kept it pretty simple. My idea is not only to see how much emotion information I can accurately extract, but also how I could produce (sort of) nice images from a book. That’s not something a science guy should say, but I have a thing for nice looking abstract patterns. So another goal is to take out the discrete structure of the final image and replace it with a smoothed out version.

Using the AFINN list or the lists I manually compiled, there is a simple way of constructing scores for a sentence or a pragraph. Let’s look at a few examples.

1. “I hate the way he talks, he is disgusting.” The lists usually contain the emotion words, so ‘hate’ and ‘disgusting’ would be the two words we are likely to find in the compiled lists. The AFINN word list has both of these words associated with -4. Adding up, the sentence would get a score of -8.

2. “I like her, but she is quite an idiot.” The word ‘like’ gets +2 and ‘idiot’ gets -4 from AFINN. Net score could be summed up, or we could take the maximum of the magnitudes, preserving the sign at the end. Summing up, this sentence gets a score of -2.

3. “I love her and she is the one in my life.” AFINN has ‘love’ with +3. It doesn’t have a score for the other words. However, there were no other negative words in this sentence, so this would get +3 overall.

4. “The city was shrouded by black smoke. Elliot suddenly understood that its destruction was a matter of time.” According to AFINN, this sentence gets -4. No positive words detected.

I can easily come up with a better heuristic than net summation. However, I did not have much time to spend to experiment what scheme would be good, so I had to be satisfied with this and hope that I see some observable patterns.

For the second word list, positive emotions get +1 and negative emotions -1. Based on the count of positive or negative words in each sentence or paragraph, I multiply the count with the respective sign.

Each sentence or paragraph will be allocated a pixel in the final image, and the pixel will be colored according to the intensity of emotion, i.e. the score obtained from the net summation of the emotion words.


1. To compare a list of sentences or paragraphs against the AFINN list and assign a score, we treat the document set as an n-dimensional vector, where each sentence or paragraph (based on what we are investigating on) is assigned an element in the vector, so the number of sentences or paragraphs is n. The i’th element will be updated when we scan the emotion words list for the corresponding word. At the end, the vector is smoothed by running an exponential moving average filter, and it is reshaped into a matrix for easy viewing and plotting. I have chosen Mathematica because of its many built-in functions to do these things easily.

compareAFINNLists[dat_, elist_] := Module[
  {tmp, ntmp, ptmp, psum, nsum, ppar, npar, i, j},
   nsum = Table[0, {i, 1, Length[dat]}];
   psum = Table[0, {i, 1, Length[dat]}];
   For[j = 1, j <= Length[elist], j++,
    tmp = StringCount[dat, ___ ~~ elist[[j, 1]] ~~ ___];
    ntmp = Table[
      If[tmp[[i]] == 0,
       If[elist[[j, 2]] < 0,
        elist[[j, 2]]*tmp[[i]],
      {i, 1, Length[tmp]}];
    ptmp = Table[
      If[tmp[[i]] == 0,
       If[elist[[j, 2]] > 0,
        elist[[j, 2]]*tmp[[i]],
      {i, 1, Length[tmp]}];
    psum = psum + ptmp;
    nsum = nsum + ntmp;
   ProgressIndicator[j, {1, Length[elist]}]
  ppar = Partition[ExponentialMovingAverage[psum, 0.03],
  npar = Partition[ExponentialMovingAverage[nsum, 0.03],
  Return[{ppar, npar, psum, nsum}]

2. For the other word lists, we follow a similar algorithm. This time, the sign (+1 or -1) is also input as an argument so that this factor can be multiplied with the net score.

compareLists[dat_, elist_, sign_] := Module[
  {tmp, tmp2, sumt, spar, i, j},
   sumt = Table[0, {i, 1, Length[dat]}];
   For[j = 1, j <= Length[elist], j++,
    tmp = StringCount[dat, ___ ~~ elist[[j]] ~~ ___];
    tmp2 = Table[
      If[tmp[[i]] == 0,
      {i, 1, Length[tmp]}];
    sumt = sumt + tmp2;
   ProgressIndicator[j, {1, Length[elist]}]
  spar = Partition[ExponentialMovingAverage[sumt, 0.03],
  Return[{spar, sumt}]

3. Loading the text files and parsing to extract the sentences and/or paragraphs is pretty straightforward.



pemot=Select[StringSplit[StringTrim[Import["positive-emotions.txt"]],{" ",","}],#!=""&];
nemot=Select[StringSplit[StringTrim[Import["negative-emotions.txt"]],{" ",","}],#!=""&];
nature=ToLowerCase[Select[StringSplit[StringTrim[Import["nature.txt"]],{" ",","}],#!=""&]];


The resulting output matrix is considered a 2D scalar density field and plotted using the ListDensityPlot command in Mathematica.

Archangel – W.C. Halbrooks

Time to do some experiments and see how the program performs. I chose two novels that were available at my hands immediately. The first one is Archangel, written by my freshman year roommate Carter (W.C. Halbrooks) when he was in high school. I had a copy in my computer, so naturally it became the subject of my first few experiments.

Sentence based analysis: Following are some images produced for sentence based sentiment analysis.



Figure 1. (Left) Positive emotions, (Right) Negative emotions based on the AFINN list. The associated color map is shown below them.


Figure 2. (Left) Figure 1 images masked over each other with an alpha value of 0.4, (Right) Sum of positive emotions and abs(negative emotions) matrices.


Figure 3.  (Left) Histogram of scores for positive emotions, (Right) histogram of scores in negative emotions.

The images are to be read left to right, top to bottom, just as one would read English text. Here, it is a timeline representing how emotions evolve as we read through each sentence. Figure 1 shows such images for the AFINN words list. Figure 2 shows two ways of combining the positive and negative emotions evolution. From the histograms of figure 3, we see that the average scores hover around  2 and -1.5.



Figure 4. (Left) Positive emotions based on DeRose emotion dictionary, (Right) Negative emotions based on the same dictionary. The color map is shown below them.



Figure 5. (Left) Nature timeline based on my nature words list, (Right) Histogram of scores from Nature words category.

Figure 4 shows positive and negative emotions timeline based on the DeRose emotions dictionary, and figure 5 shows the performance of the Nature word list I found online. Definitely it’s a poor word list (see histogram), only a few words from the list were found in the novel. The other explanation could be that the novel does not have a lot of descriptions of nature, but I will have a hard time believing that.

Paragraph based analysis: Often it is a good idea to look at the net score of a paragraph and see a timeline based on emotions in each paragraph.



Figure 6. Paragraph based positive emotions timeline (left), negative emotions timeline (right). Note the prominence of negative sentiments in the paragraphs in the later stages of the novel.


Figure 7. DeRose dictionary based positive emotions timeline. From the score histogram, it seems that quite a lot of words were common between the list and the novel.

Montezuma’s Daughter – Henry Rider Haggard

I recently read this novel. Project Gutenberg [4] offers a free text for all. From the images, I could roughly relate a few events (wars, love and marriage between the protagonists, conspiracy against the empire etc) in the novel.

Paragraph based analysis: From Archangel, it seemed to me that paragraph based analysis is better, for one thing we get less cluttered images!



Figure 8. Positive emotions timeline (left), negative emotions timeline (right).

This, in contrast to Archangel, says a lot about the kind of language used a century ago in novels. Note the prominence of positive emotions throughout the novel. This creates a better way to analyze novels, because the negative emotions are quite visible when there are extreme events. There are approximately six brown shades in the negative sentiments timeline (right). Having read the novel, I can approximately relate the tragic events in the novel with those six lines. Note the dominance of blue in the positive timeline (left) at the very beginning, and the dominance of brown at the very beginning in the negative timeline. The novel starts with a lot of lamentation for the protagonist’s mother’s murder, it is not surprising to see that small patch of brown at the beginning of the negative timeline (or blue patch at the beginning of positive emotions timeline).



Figure 9. Nature description propagation in Montezuma’s daughter. For this larger corpus, the nature words list worked out well (to some extent), as seen from the score histogram. So, we can sort of rely on this timeline picture and say that there are quite a lot of nature descriptions in the last-middle half of the novel, which is not quite wrong. Anahuaq (currently Mexico) in the 15th century is quite well described when the protagonist becomes the king of the tribes there, which happens at around the middle of the novel.


This was just a glimpse of what data could be visualized about novels to give the readers some notion about the emotional experience  as they read a novel along. There can be many other useful information about novels that can be encoded in this timeline-like pictures. The work here does not do justice to the title, I agree, but hey, this was just me spending some spare weekend time off research and other duties to explore what sort of patterns and pictures emerge from the novels I read!

The deciding factors here are (a) a comprehensive list of emotion/sentiment words and (b) a nice heuristic to compare sentences or paragraphs. Let’s be honest, net summation scheme sucks for many logical reasons, for one thing it leaves out small and detailed sentiment strengths in paragraphs or sentences. Nevertheless, I saw some patterns that I expected to see, so it did the job for now. A better scheme could be a Taylor series like summation. As more words from the emotion database are found in the novel, the squared, cubic etc terms of those values will be added to the overall sentiment strength.

The information visualization and art aspects of such images can’t be ignored. From my Google search I have not found anything about such visualization, but it’s quite hard to believe no infovis researchers attempted such work. I am interested to see what sort of work has been done so far.

With a carefully chosen color map, such patterns can be quite artsy from the reader’s or writer’s perspective. The amount of information that can be embedded in a 2D image is limited though, the Free Lunch theorem applies here. An image based on emotions and sentiments in a novel seemed logical to me, however, there can be other aspects equally important to the reader. The experience of reading a novel is quite personalized, different readers value different factors.