I am classifying documents I have around 4000 of them that I am trying to categorise into 5 categories. I am using a bag of words model which equates to about 18,000 unique words (features) and therefore I have an input layer of a neural network with 18,0000 inputs which doesn't seem right.

It is taking a huge amount of memory to try and train this network and so much time it will never converge!

Is there a way of reducing the number of input neurons seeing as a large portion of this data will be nulls?

  • $\begingroup$ One hot encoding text usually gives you a huge number of inputs. You might want to consider using word embeddings. Try word2vec or doc2vec. $\endgroup$
    – TitoOrt
    Mar 19, 2018 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


Yes, actually what usually people do is to map the unique tokens in a space with fixed dimensionality, obtaining what is called "words embeddings".

And actually, using already trained word embeddings like GloVE is usually it's a best practice: those vectors are trained on huge datasets like Wikipedia or Common Crawl. A nicety of those vectors is that, thanks to the way they are built, they include also the relation between the words, a sort of semantic. This is the way I definitely suggest you to start.

  • $\begingroup$ perfect thanks, once I have my word embeddings how would I go about adding these to my neural net? I can't find much on integrating it into a network $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2018 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ you use the words coordinate as features. So, if you choose a 50 dimensional space where to represent your words, you have 50 features to feed to your NN $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2018 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much, I will give this a go and see what I get, I've gone down a path of convolutional neural networks as well now so will look at those too. So at the moment I have a 3 layer network, I can simply replace the input network with the 50 features (in your example)? $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2018 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, exactly. Simple and effective, especially if you use the pre-trained word embeddings like GloVe $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2018 at 9:51

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