One-Hot Encoding in Practice

mtimFxhData is the king in machine learning. In the process of building machine learning models, data is used as the input features.

Input features comes in all shapes and sizes. For building a predictive model with a better accuracy rate, we should understand the data as well as the logic behind the algorithm we going to use to fit the model.

Data Understanding; as the second step of CRISP-DM, guides for understanding the types and the way the data we get has been represented. We can distinguish three main kinds of data feature.

  1. Quantitative Data           – Data with numerical scale (Age of a person in years, Price of a house in dollars etc.)
  2. Ordinal features              – Data without a scale but with ordering (Ordered sets/ first, second, third etc.)
  3. Categorical features       – Data without a numerical scale neither an ordering. These features don’t allow any statistical summary. (Car manufacturer categories, Civil status, N-grams in NLP etc.)

Most of the machine learning algorithms such as linear regression, logistic regression, neural network, support vector machine works better with numerical features.

Quantitative features come with a numerical value and they can be directly used (Sometimes data preprocessing, normalization may have to use) as the input features of ML algorithms.

Ordinal features can be easily represented in numbers (Ex. First = 1, Second = 2, Third = 3 …). This is called Integer Encoding. Representing ordinal features using numbers makes sense because the dependency between each representation can be notated in a numerical way.

There are some algorithms that can directly deal with joint discrete distribution such as Markov chain / Naive Bayes / Bayesian network, tree based, etc. These algorithms can work with categorical data without any encoding; while we should encode the categorical features in a way to represent in a numerically to use as the input features for other ML algorithms. That means it’s better to change the categorical features to numerical most of the times 😊

There are some special cases too. For an example, while naïve bias classification only really handles categorical features, many geometric models go in the other direction by only handling quantitative features.

How to convert Categorical data for Numerical data?

There are few ways to covert the categorical data to numerical data.

  • Dummy encoding
  • One-hot encoding / one-of-K scheme

are the most prominent ways of it.

One hot encoding is the process of converting the categorical features into numerical by performing “binarization” of the category and include it as a feature to train the model.

In mathematics, we can define one-hot encoding as…

One hot encoding transforms:

a single variable with n observations and d distinct values,


d binary variables with n observations each. Each observation indicating the presence (1) or absence (0) of the dth binary variable.

Let’s get this clear with an example. Suppose you have ‘flower’ feature which can take values ‘daffodil’, ‘lily’, and ‘rose’. One hot encoding converts ‘flower’ feature to three features, ‘is_daffodil’, ‘is_lily’, and ‘is_rose’ which all are binary.

CaptureA common application of OHE is in Natural Language Processing (NLP). It can be used to turn words to vectors so easily. Here comes a con of OHE, where the vector size might get very large with respect to the number of distinct values in the feature column.If there’s only two distinct categories in the feature, no need to construct to additional columns. You can just replace the feature column with one Boolean column.


OHE in word vector representation

You can easily perform One-hot encoding in AzureML Studio by using the ‘Convert to Indicator Values’ module. The purpose of this module is to convert columns that contain categorical values into a series of binary indicator columns that can more easily be used as features in a machine learning model, which is the same happens in OHE. Let’s look at performing One-Hot encoding using python in next article.


Natural Language Processing with Python + Visual Studio

cap_4Human Language is one of the most complicated phenomena to interpret for machines. Comparing to artificial languages like programming languages and mathematical notations, natural languages are hard to notate with explicit rules. Natural Language Processing, AKA Computational Linguistics enable computers to derive meaning from human or natural language input.

When it comes to natural language processing, text analysis plays a major role. One of the major problems we have to face when processing natural language is the computation power. Working with big corpus and chunking the textual data into n-grams need a big processing power. All mighty cloud; the ultimate savior comes handy in this application too.

Let’s peep into some of the cool tools you can use in your developments. In most of the cases, you don’t want to get the hassle of developing from the scratch. There are plenty of APIs and libraries that you can directly integrate with your system.

If you think, you wanna go from scratch and do some enhancements, there’s the space for you too. 😊

Text Analytics APIs

Microsoft text analytics APIs are set of web services built with Azure Machine Learning. Many major tasks found in natural language processing are exposed as web services through this. The API can be used to analyze unstructured text for tasks such as sentiment analysis, key phrase extraction, language detection and topic detection. No hard rules are training loads. Just call the API from your C# or python code. Refer the link below for more info.

Process natural language from the scratch!

Python! Yeah. that’s it! Among many languages used for programming, python comes handy with many pre-built packages specifically built for natural language processing.

Obviously, python works well with unix systems. But now the best IDE in town; Visual Studio comes with a toolset for python which enable you to edit, debug and compile python scripts using your existing IDE.  You should have Visual Studio 2015 (Community edition, professional or enterprise) for installing the python tools. (

Here I’ve used NLTK (Natural Language Tool Kit) for the task. One of the main advantage with NLTK is, it comes with dozens of built in corpora and trained models.

These are the Language processing tasks and corresponding NLTK modules with examples of functionality comes with that.


Source –

For running python NLTK for the first time you may need to download the nltk_data. Go for the python interactive console and install the required data from the popping up NLTK downloader. (Use  for this task)


Here’s a little simulation of natural language processing tasks done using NLTK. Code snippets are commented for easy reading. 😊

import nltk
from nltk.corpus import treebank
from nltk.corpus import stopwords

#Sample sentence used for processing
sentence = """John came to office at eight o'clock on Monday morning & left the office with Arthur bit early."""

#Tokenizing the sentence into words 
word_tokens = nltk.word_tokenize(sentence)
#Tagging words
tagged_words = nltk.pos_tag(word_tokens)
#Identify named entities
named_entities = nltk.chunk.ne_chunk(tagged_words)

#Removing the stopwords from the text - Predefined stopwords in English have been used.
stop_words = set(stopwords.words('english'))
filtered_sentence = [w for w in word_tokens if not w in stop_words]

filtered_sentence = []

for w in word_tokens:
    if w not in stop_words:

print('Sentence - ' + sentence)
print('Word tokens - ')
print('Tagged words - ')
print('Named entities - ')
print('Word tokens - ')
print('Filtered sentence - ')


The output after executing the script should be like this.

cap_3You can Improve these basics to build Named Entity Recognizer and many more…

Try processing the language you read and speak… 😉