Putting hands to rest: efficient deep CNN-RNN architecture for chemical named entity recognition with no hand-crafted rules

J Cheminform. 2018 May 23;10(1):28. doi: 10.1186/s13321-018-0280-0.


Chemical named entity recognition (NER) is an active field of research in biomedical natural language processing. To facilitate the development of new and superior chemical NER systems, BioCreative released the CHEMDNER corpus, an extensive dataset of diverse manually annotated chemical entities. Most of the systems trained on the corpus rely on complicated hand-crafted rules or curated databases for data preprocessing, feature extraction and output post-processing, though modern machine learning algorithms, such as deep neural networks, can automatically design the rules with little to none human intervention. Here we explored this approach by experimenting with various deep learning architectures for targeted tokenisation and named entity recognition. Our final model, based on a combination of convolutional and stateful recurrent neural networks with attention-like loops and hybrid word- and character-level embeddings, reaches near human-level performance on the testing dataset with no manually asserted rules. To make our model easily accessible for standalone use and integration in third-party software, we've developed a Python package with a minimalistic user interface.

Keywords: Biocreative; Chemdner; Chemical; Conditional random fields; Convolutional neural network; Deep learning; Named entities recognition; Neural attention; Recurrent neural network; Text mining; Tokenisation.