Examining Temporality in Document Classification

Xiaolei Huang, Michael J. Paul

Many corpora span broad periods of time. Language processing models trained during one time period may not work well in future time periods, and the best model may depend on specific times of year (e.g., people might describe hotels differently in reviews during the winter versus the summer). This study investigates how document classifiers trained on documents from certain time intervals perform on documents from other time intervals, considering both seasonal intervals (intervals that repeat across years, e.g., winter) and non-seasonal intervals (e.g., specific years). We show experimentally that classification performance varies over time, and that performance can be improved by using a standard domain adaptation approach to adjust for changes in time.