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What is bag of words in Machine Learning?

A “bag of words” is a representation of the words in a phrase or passage, irrespective of order.

For example, bag of words represents the following three phrases identically:

  • the dog jumps
  • jumps the dog
  • dog jumps the

Each word is mapped to an index in a sparse vector, where the vector has an index for every word in the vocabulary. For example, the phrase the dog jumps is mapped into a feature vector with non-zero values at the three indices corresponding to the words thedog, and jumps. The non-zero value can be any of the following:

  • A 1 to indicate the presence of a word.
  • A count of the number of times a word appears in the bag. For example, if the phrase were the maroon dog is a dog with maroon fur, then both maroon and dog would be represented as 2, while the other words would be represented as 1.
  • Some other value, such as the logarithm of the count of the number of times a word appears in the bag.

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