Word2Vec with Adrian Colyer Holiday Repeat

Originally posted on 13 September 2017.

Machines understand the world through mathematical representations. In order to train a machine learning model, we need to describe everything in terms of numbers.  Images, words, and sounds are too abstract for a computer. But a series of numbers is a representation that we can all agree on, whether we are a computer or a human.

In recent shows, we have explored how to train machine learning models to understand images and video. Today, we explore words. You might be thinking–”isn’t a word easy to understand? Can’t you just take the dictionary definition?” A dictionary definition does not capture the richness of a word. Dictionaries do not give you a way to measure similarity between one word and all other words in a given language.

Word2vec is a system for defining words in terms of the words that appear close to that word. For example, the sentence “Howard is sitting in a Starbucks cafe drinking a cup of coffee” gives an obvious indication that the words “cafe,” “cup,” and “coffee” are all related. With enough sentences like that, we can start to understand the entire language.

Adrian Colyer is a venture capitalist with Accel, and blogs about technical topics such as word2vec. We talked about word2vec specifically, and the deep learning space more generally. We also explored how the rapidly improving tools around deep learning are changing the venture investment landscape.