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The proximity of ideas: An analysis of patent text using machine learning

Sijie Feng

PLOS ONE, 2020, vol. 15, issue 7, 1-19

Abstract: This paper introduces a measure of the proximity in ideas using unsupervised machine learning. Knowledge transfers are considered a key driving force of innovation and regional economic growth. I explore knowledge relationships by deriving vector space representations of a patent’s abstract text using Document Vectors (Doc2Vec), and using cosine similarity to measure their proximity in ideas space. I illustrate the potential uses of this method with an application to geographic localization in knowledge spillovers. For patents in the same technology field, their normalized text similarity is 0.02-0.05 S.D.s higher if they are located within the same city, compared to patents from other cities. This effect is much smaller than when knowledge transfers are measured using normalized patent citations: local patents receive about 0.23-0.30 S.D.s more local citations than compared to non-local control patents. These findings suggest that the effect of geography on knowledge transfers may be much smaller than the previous literature using citations suggests.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234880

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