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I'm trying to figure out a way I could represent a Facebook user as a vector. I decided to go with stacking the different attributes/parameters of the user into one big vector (i.e. age is a vector of size 100, where 100 is the maximum age you can have, if you are lets say 50, the first 50 values of the vector would be 1 just like a thermometer).

Now I want to represent the Facebook interests as a vector too, and I just can't figure out a way. They are a collection of words and the space that represents all the words is huge, I can't go for a model like a bag of words or something similar. How should I proceed? I'm still new to this, any reference would be highly appreciated.

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  • $\begingroup$ why not represent a user's age by a single integer? How you should proceed completely depends on what you'd like to compute. More details would be useful. $\endgroup$ – Nick Apr 20 '12 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ why not using a binary representation for the age, as this might save quite a bit of space depending on how much different user you want to save/evaluate? 100 would be "1100100" therefore you would need a maximum of 7 bits/vector-values instead of 100. $\endgroup$ – Sim Apr 21 '12 at 10:37
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The interests are categorical data and may be modeled as binary variables (a user either likes them or he does not). You can subsume little-used categories under broader categories. For example, a user who likes a little-known horror movie can simply be marked as liking horror movies. You can even subsume such items under multiple categories if it belongs to several.

For what you can do with the data see A Review on Data Clustering Algorithms for Mixed Data

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  • $\begingroup$ How would one deal with the fact that there are an unbounded number of interests? $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Apr 20 '12 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ You can subsume little-used categories under broader categories. For example, a user who likes a little-known horror movie can simply be marked as liking horror movies. You can also subsume such categories under multiple broader categories if the item belongs to several. $\endgroup$ – Emre Apr 20 '12 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ How about incorporating those ideas into your answer to make it more comprehensive? $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Apr 20 '12 at 20:01

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