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Alex Van Heest, Lena McDonnell & Drew Siedel

Topic Modeling Browser

Department: Computer Science and Engineering
Advisor: Eric Baumer

Social scientists are frequently confronted with large volumes of unlabeled text data and tasked with understanding the meaning of the data. Without computer tools, this is a long, often fruitless task. Topic modeling is a helpful technique for processing the meaning of large amounts of text-based data, but the current tooling is not easily accessible to those without a strong knowledge of programming. Our system aims to provide a web-based graphical interface for interacting with topic models. It includes six different views, which were engineered through iterative development to be informative and visually appealing. We developed the tool on a large dataset of blogs by the parents of autistic children, but it was created to be applicable to general text datasets. Using our system, researchers are better able to understand their data, as well as the various discourses, actors, and relationships within it.

About Alex Van Heest:
Alex is a senior studying computer science and English. He is pursuing a career in software development at Lutron Electronics in Philadelphia starting in the summer of 2018. For fun, Alex likes working on programming projects related to text analysis and read novels. His other interests include data science, digital humanities, and film.

About Lena McDonnell:
Lena McDonnell is a senior studying computer science in Lehigh University’s engineering college. Outside the classroom she runs Soterra, an organization focused on developing technological solutions to global issues surrounding women's safety. She comes from San Francisco, California, and spends her free time surfing, hiking and woodworking. She also has a deep seated passion for particle physics and everything space related.

About Drew Siedel:
Drew Siedel is a senior studying Computer Science. He is passionate about robotics, neuroprosthetics, and computer security. In his free time, Drew enjoys spending time with friends, playing video games, and working on programming projects. In his time at Lehigh, Drew has been involved with several engineering clubs, including IEEE, Lehigh Robotics, AIAA, Lehigh Hyperloop, and Soterra.