Accepted Papers

The Secret Lives of Names? Name Embeddings from Social Media

Junting Ye and Steven Skiena

Your name tells a lot about you: your gender, ethnicity and so on. It has been shown that name embeddings are more effective in representing names than traditional substring features. However, our previous name embedding model is trained on private email data and are not publicly accessible. In this paper, we explore learning name embeddings from public Twitter data. We argue that Twitter embeddings have two key advantages: (i) they can and will be publicly released to support research community. (ii) even with a smaller training corpus, Twitter embeddings achieve similar performances on multiple tasks comparing to email embeddings.

As a test case to show the power of name embeddings, we investigate the modeling of lifespans. We find it interesting that adding name embeddings can further improve the performances of models using demographic features, which are traditionally used for lifespan modeling. Through residual analysis, we observe that fine-grained groups (potentially reflecting socioeconomic status) are the latent contributing factors encoded in name embeddings. These were previously hidden to demographic models, and may help to enhance the predictive power of a wide class of research studies.


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