Blog #19

Microsoft Cognitive Services

 8 Jan 2020

Microsoft Cognitive Services, what's on offer and what can you do with it?

In a previous blog, I touched machine learning (ML) and covered some of the basic concepts. If you keep up-to-date with IT developments, you’ll have noticed there has been an explosion in ML technology in recent years.

Complex algorithms, once reserved for statisticians and researchers, have now been commoditised and packaged up into consumable APIs and microservices making it easier than ever for developers to introduce ML technology into their existing tech stack.

The benefits to the business are obvious and in this post, I explore Microsoft Cognitive Services and what’s on offer.

A Real-Life Example

A few years ago, as part of Master’s degree research, I implemented a Bayesian classifier in C#.

The classifier was responsible for applying sentiment analysis to incoming social media data and allowed users to identify if people were expressing positive or negative emotion in relation to a product, brand or service.

Implementing this took quite some time and there were many steps which included:
  • Collating examples of positive / negative messages
  • Identifying and removing “stop words”
  • Training the classifier to identify positive emotion
  • Training the classifier to identify negative emotion
  • POS Tagging

Cognitive Service

When I implemented this classifier, I didn’t have access to an API that I could simply integrate with my web application.  I had to build it from the ground up.

One of the APIs that ships with the Cognitive Services platform is the Text Analytics API which contains the following features:

  • Sentiment Analysis
  • Key Phrase Extraction
  • Language Detection
In the image below, you can see a sentence being processed by the API which subsequently has determined the language, key phrases and overall sentiment.

The great thing about these APIs is that to consume them, you simply need to obtain a Key and construct a POST request.


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