Concept Induction: Analyzing Unstructured Text with High-Level Concepts Using LLooM

Michelle S. Lam, Janice Teoh, James Landay, Jeffrey Heer, Michael Bernstein
ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, 2024
Data analysts have long sought to turn unstructured text data into meaningful concepts. Though common, topic modeling and clustering focus on lower-level keywords and require significant interpretative work. We introduce concept induction, a computational process that instead produces high-level concepts, defined by explicit inclusion criteria, from unstructured text. For a dataset of toxic online comments, where a state-of-the-art BERTopic model outputs "women, power, female," concept induction produces high-level concepts such as "Criticism of traditional gender roles" and "Dismissal of women's concerns." We present LLooM, a concept induction algorithm that leverages large language models to iteratively synthesize sampled text and propose human-interpretable concepts of increasing generality. We then instantiate LLooM in a mixed-initiative text analysis tool, enabling analysts to shift their attention from interpreting topics to engaging in theory-driven analysis. Through technical evaluations and four analysis scenarios ranging from literature review to content moderation, we find that LLooM's concepts improve upon the prior art of topic models in terms of quality and data coverage. In expert case studies, LLooM helped researchers to uncover new insights even from familiar datasets, for example by suggesting a previously unnoticed concept of attacks on out-party stances in a political social media dataset.