2022-Winter-MGTA415-Analyzing Unstructured Data

Graduate Class, Rady Management School, UCSD, 2022

Class Time: Wednesdays, 2PM to 4:50PM. Room: OTRSN 1E107https://ucsd.zoom.us/j/95861287987. Piazza: piazza.com/ucsd/winter2022/mgta415

Online Lecturing

Due to the COVID-19 Omicron Variant, in the first two weeks, this course will be delivered over Zoom: https://ucsd.zoom.us/j/95861287987.


This course mainly focuses on introducing current methods and models that are useful in analyzing and mining real-world unstructured text data.

As the starting points, we will review basic machine learning models like linear regression and logistic regression. Then, we will cover traditional text preprocessing techniques, including tokenization, POS tagging, parsing, etc, using popular Python libraries as examples. After that, we will talk about more text analysis problems like text classification (e.g., sentiment analysis), information retrieval, topic modeling, word embedding, language models, etc.

This course will mainly focus on high-level understandings of these concepts and also provide the students handles to implement their own text analysis models (e.g., how to use 3rd-party libs, and how to set hyper-parameters).

After the midterm exam, we will take about more advanced text mining problems, such as phrase mining, named entity recognition, and taxonomy construction. We will go beyond the traditional supervised methods and put some emphasis on unsupervised, weakly supervised, and distantly supervised methods. Bootstrapping, comparative analysis, learning from seed words and existing knowledge bases will be the key methodologies to know.

We will have a take-home midterm, a few homework assignments, a Kaggle-like competition, and a final (team-based) project. These four parts will have roughly the same weights.

There is no textbook required, but there are recommended readings for each lecture (at the end of the slides).

If you don’t have much experience in data mining, machine learning, etc. Here are some recommended textbooks to review.


  • Math, Stats, and Coding
  • For Coding
    • We will mainly use Python
    • Sometimes, we will need to run some tools developed in C/C++ and Java
  • It’s a bonus if you already have knowledge about machine learning and data mining

Teaching Assistant

  • Xiaochen Gao

Office Hours

Note: all times are in Pacific Time.


  • Homework: 8% each.
  • Midterm: 26%.
  • Data Mining Challenge: 25%.
  • Project: 25%.
  • You should complete all work individually, except for the Project.
  • Late submissions are NOT accepted.

Lecture Schedule

Recording Note: Please check out Canvas for recordings.

HW Note: All HWs due before the lecture time 2PM PT.

WeekDateTopic & SlidesEvents
101/05 (Wed)Intro and Text Preprocessing 
201/12 (Wed)Machine Learning Concepts and BasicsHW1 out
301/19 (Wed)Text Classification using Bag-of-Words 
401/26 (Wed)Word Embedding & Language Models: from N-Gram to Neural LMsHW2 out
502/02 (Wed)Information Retrieval & Topic ModelingHW1 due, DM Challenge out
602/09 (Wed)Midterm Exam 
702/16 (Wed)Phrase Mining and its applicationsHW2 due, HW3 out
802/23 (Wed)Image ClassificationDM challenge due
903/02 (Wed)Named Entity Recognition 
1003/09 (Wed)Weakly Supervised Text ClassificationHW3 due

Homework (24%)

Midterm (26%)

It is an open-book, take-home exam, which covers all lectures given before the Midterm. Most of the questions will be open-ended. Some of them might be slightly more difficult than homework. You will have 24 hours to complete the midterm, which is expected for about 3 hours.

  • Start: Feb 9, 2 PM PT
  • End: Feb 10, 2 PM PT
  • Midterm problems download: TBD.

Data Mining Challenge (25%)

It is a individual-based data mining competition with quantitative evaluation. The challenge runs from Feb 1 to Feb 28. Note that the time displayed on Kaggle is in UTC, not PT.

Project (25%)

  • Team-Based Open-Ended Project
    • 1 to 4 members per team. More members, higher expectation.
    • Define your own research problem and justify its importance
    • Final Deliverables: Research Paper-like Report
      • Report due on Mar 13, End of the day, Pacific Time.
      • Write a 5 to 9 pages report (research-paper like following ACL template). The pages here do not include references.
      • Come up with your hypothesis and find some datasets for verification
      • Design your own models or try a large variety of existing models
      • Submit your codes and datasets; Github repos are welcome
      • Up to 5% bonus for working demos/apps towards the total course grades