The Historical Significance of Textual Distances

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Measuring similarity is a basic task in information retrieval, and now often a building-block for more complex arguments about cultural change. But do measures of textual similarity and distance really correspond to evidence about cultural proximity and differentiation? To explore that question empirically, this paper compares textual and social measures of the similarities between genres of English-language fiction. Existing measures of textual similarity (cosine similarity on tf-idf vectors or topic vectors) are also compared to new strategies that strive to anchor textual measurement in a social context.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-69
Journal2nd Joint SIGHUM Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, Humanities and Literature
StatePublished - Aug 2018


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