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Train Custom Named Entity Recognition Model

This example shows how to train a custom named entity recognition (NER) model.

Named entity recognition (NER) [1] is the process of detecting named entities in text such as "person" or "organization". This diagram shows text flowing through a NER model.

The function automatically detects person names, locations, organizations, and other named entities in text. If you want to train a custom model that predicts different tags, or train a model using your own data, then you can use the trainHMMEntityModel function.

Load Training Data

Download the Wikipedia gold standard dataset. [2]

dataFolder = fullfile(tempdir,"wikigold");
if ~datasetExists(dataFolder)
    zipFile = matlab.internal.examples.downloadSupportFile("textanalytics","data/");

Download and extract the Wikipedia gold standard dataset.

filenameTrain = fullfile(dataFolder,"wikigold.conll.txt");

The training data contains approximately 39,000 tokens, each tagged with one of these entities:

  • "LOC" — Location

  • "MISC" — Miscellaneous

  • "ORG" — Organization

  • "PER" — Person

  • "O" — Outside (non-entity)

The entity tags use the "inside, outside" (IO) labeling scheme. The tag "O" (outside) denotes non-entities. For each token in an entity, the tag is prefixed with "I-" (inside), which denotes that the token is part of an entity.

A limitation of the IO labeling scheme is that it does not specify entity boundaries between adjacent entities of the same type. The "inside, outside, beginning" (IOB) labeling scheme, also known as the "beginning, inside, outside" (BIO) labeling scheme, addresses this limitation by introducing a "beginning" prefix.

There are two variants of the IOB labeling scheme: IOB1 and IOB2.

IOB2 Labeling Scheme

For each token in an entity, the tag is prefixed with one of these values:

  • "B-" (beginning) — The token is a single token entity or the first token of a multi-token entity.

  • "I-" (inside) — The token is a subsequent token of a multi-token entity.

For a list of entity tags Entity, the IOB2 labeling scheme helps identify boundaries between adjacent entities of the same type by using this logic:

  • If Entity(i) has prefix "B-" and Entity(i+1) is "O" or has prefix "B-", then Token(i) is a single entity.

  • If Entity(i) has prefix "B-", Entity(i+1), ..., Entity(N) has prefix "I-", and Entity(N+1) is "O" or has prefix "B-", then the phrase Token(i:N) is a multi-token entity.

IOB1 Labeling Scheme

The IOB1 labeling scheme does not use the prefix "B-" when an entity token follows an "O-" prefix. In this case, an entity token that is the first token in a list or follows a non-entity token implies that the entity token is the first token of an entity. That is, if Entity(i) has prefix "I-" and i is equal to 1 or Entity(i-1) has prefix "O-", then Token(i) is a single token entity or the first token of a multi-token entity.

Read the data from the training data using the readWikigoldData function, attached to this example as a supporting file. To access this function, open the example as a live script. The trainHMMEntityModel function requires data in the IOB2 labeling scheme. The function converts the tags from IO labeling scheme to the IOB2 labeling scheme.

[data,numDocuments] = readWikigoldData(filenameTrain);

View the number of documents.

numDocuments = 145

Partition the data into training and test sets. Set aside 10% of the documents for testing.

cvp = cvpartition(numDocuments,HoldOut=0.1);

Find the indices of the training and test documents.

idxDocumentsTrain = find(training(cvp));
idxDocumentsTest = find(test(cvp));

Find the tokens in the training data corresponding to the training and test documents.

idxTokensTrain = ismember(data.DocumentNumber,idxDocumentsTrain);
idxTokensTest = ismember(data.DocumentNumber,idxDocumentsTest);

Partition the data using the token indices.

dataTrain = data(idxTokensTrain,:);
dataTest = data(idxTokensTest,:);

View the first few rows of the training data. The table contains three columns that represent token indices, tokens, and the entities.

      Token        Entity     DocumentNumber
    __________    ________    ______________

    "010"         "B-MISC"          1       
    "is"          "O"               1       
    "the"         "O"               1       
    "tenth"       "O"               1       
    "album"       "O"               1       
    "from"        "O"               1       
    "Japanese"    "B-MISC"          1       
    "Punk"        "O"               1       

View the entity tags.

ans = 9×1 string

Train NER Model

Train the NER model and indicate that the tag "O" denotes non-entities. Depending on the size of the training data, this step can take a long time to run.

mdl = trainHMMEntityModel(dataTrain,NonEntity="O")
mdl = 
  hmmEntityModel with properties:

    Entities: [5×1 categorical]

Test NER Model

View the first few rows of the validation data.

       Token        Entity     DocumentNumber
    ____________    _______    ______________

    "Albert"        "B-PER"          18      
    "Wren"          "I-PER"          18      
    "was"           "O"              18      
    "an"            "O"              18      
    "Ontario"       "B-LOC"          18      
    "politician"    "O"              18      
    "."             "O"              18      
    "He"            "O"              18      

Make predictions on the validation data using the trained model.

documentsTest = tokenizedDocument(dataTest.Token',TokenizeMethod="none");
tbl = predict(mdl,documentsTest);

View the first few predictions.

       Token        Entity
    ____________    ______

    "Albert"        B-PER 
    "Wren"          I-PER 
    "was"           O     
    "an"            O     
    "Ontario"       B-LOC 
    "politician"    O     
    "."             O     
    "He"            O     

Visualize the results in a confusion chart.

YTest = string(tbl.Entity);
TTest = dataTest.Entity;


Calculate the average F1-score using the f1Score function, listed in the F1-Score Function section of the example.

score = f1Score(TTest,YTest)
score = 0.5634

Make Predictions with New Data

Create a tokenized document.

str = [
    "William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England."
    "He wrote plays such as Julius Caesar and King Lear."];
documentsNew = tokenizedDocument(str)
documentsNew = 
  2×1 tokenizedDocument:

     9 tokens: William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon , England .
    11 tokens: He wrote plays such as Julius Caesar and King Lear .

Add entity details to the documents using the addEntityDetails function and specify the trained model.

documentsNew = addEntityDetails(documentsNew,Model=mdl);

View the token details of the first few tokens. The addEntityDetails function automatically merges multi-token entities into a single token and removes the "B-" and "I-" prefixes from the tags.

details = tokenDetails(documentsNew)
details=17×8 table
            Token            DocumentNumber    SentenceNumber    LineNumber       Type        Language      PartOfSpeech       Entity
    _____________________    ______________    ______________    __________    ___________    ________    _________________    ______

    "William Shakespeare"          1                 1               1         other             en       proper-noun           PER  
    "was"                          1                 1               1         letters           en       auxiliary-verb        O    
    "born"                         1                 1               1         letters           en       verb                  O    
    "in"                           1                 1               1         letters           en       adposition            O    
    "Stratford-upon-Avon"          1                 1               1         other             en       proper-noun           LOC  
    ","                            1                 1               1         punctuation       en       punctuation           O    
    "England"                      1                 1               1         letters           en       proper-noun           LOC  
    "."                            1                 1               1         punctuation       en       punctuation           O    
    "He"                           2                 1               1         letters           en       pronoun               O    
    "wrote"                        2                 1               1         letters           en       verb                  O    
    "plays"                        2                 1               1         letters           en       noun                  O    
    "such"                         2                 1               1         letters           en       adjective             O    
    "as"                           2                 1               1         letters           en       adposition            O    
    "Julius Caesar"                2                 1               1         other             en       proper-noun           PER  
    "and"                          2                 1               1         letters           en       coord-conjunction     O    
    "King Lear"                    2                 1               1         other             en       proper-noun           PER  

Extract the Token and Entity variables of the table.

details(:,["Token" "Entity"])
ans=17×2 table
            Token            Entity
    _____________________    ______

    "William Shakespeare"     PER  
    "was"                     O    
    "born"                    O    
    "in"                      O    
    "Stratford-upon-Avon"     LOC  
    ","                       O    
    "England"                 LOC  
    "."                       O    
    "He"                      O    
    "wrote"                   O    
    "plays"                   O    
    "such"                    O    
    "as"                      O    
    "Julius Caesar"           PER  
    "and"                     O    
    "King Lear"               PER  

F1-Score Function

The f1Score function takes as input a data set of targets and predictions and returns the F1-score averaged over the classes. This metric is suited for data sets with imbalanced classes. The metric is given by


where precision and recall denote the precision and recall averaged over the classes given by:


where K is the number of classes, and TPi, FPi, and FNi, denote the numbers of true positives, false positives, and false negatives for class i, respectively.

function score = f1Score(targets,predictions)

classNames = unique(targets);
numClasses = numel(classNames);

TP = zeros(1,numClasses);
FP = zeros(1,numClasses);
FN = zeros(1,numClasses);

for i = 1:numel(classNames)
    name = classNames(i);
    TP(i) = sum(targets == name & predictions == name);
    FP(i) = sum(targets ~= name & predictions == name);
    FN(i) = sum(targets == name & predictions ~= name);

precision = mean(TP ./ (TP + FP));
recall = mean(TP ./ (TP + FP));

score = 2*precision*recall/(precision + recall);



  1. Krishnan, Vijay, and Vignesh Ganapathy. "Named entity recognition." Stanford Lecture CS229 (2005).

  2. Dominic Balasuriya, Nicky Ringland, Joel Nothman, Tara Murphy, and James R. Curran. "Named entity recognition in wikipedia." In Proceedings of the 2009 workshop on the people’s web meets NLP: Collaboratively constructed semantic resources (People’s Web), pp. 10-18. 2009.

See Also

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