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Historical analysis of legal opinions with a sparse mixed-effects latent variable model

Wang, William Yang, Mayfield, Elijah, Naidu, Suresh and Dittmar, Jeremiah (2012) Historical analysis of legal opinions with a sparse mixed-effects latent variable model. . Association for Computational Linguistics, Stroudsburg, USA.

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We propose a latent variable model to enhance historical analysis of large corpora. This work extends prior work in topic modelling by incorporating metadata, and the interactions between the components in metadata, in a general way. To test this, we collect a corpus of slavery-related United States property law judgements sampled from the years 1730 to 1866. We study the language use in these legal cases, with a special focus on shifts I opinions on controversial topics across different regions. Because this is a longitudinal data set, we are also interested in understanding how these opinions change over the course of decades. We show that the joint learning scheme of our sparse mixed-effects model improves on other state-of-the-art generative and discriminative models on the region and time period identification tasks. Experiments show that our sparse mixed-effects model is more accurate quantitatively and qualitatively interesting, and that these improvements are robust across different parameter settings.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Association for Computational Linguistics
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2013 13:17
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:04

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