Words that are commonly found together within a single topic and are semantically related to each other.
Latent semantic analysis (LSA) is a technique in natural language processing, in particular distributional semantics, of analyzing relationships between a set of documents and the terms they contain by producing a set of concepts related to the documents and terms. LSA assumes that words that are close in meaning will occur in similar pieces of text (the distributional hypothesis). A matrix containing word counts per paragraph (rows represent unique words and columns represent each paragraph) is constructed from a large piece of text and a mathematical technique called singular value decomposition (SVD) is used to reduce the number of rows while preserving the similarity structure among columns. Paragraphs are then compared by taking the cosine of the angle between the two vectors (or the dot product between the normalizations of the two vectors) formed by any two columns. Values close to 1 represent very similar paragraphs while values close to 0 represent very dissimilar paragraphs.
An information retrieval technique using latent semantic structure was patented in 1988 (US Patent 4,839,853, now expired) by Scott Deerwester, Susan Dumais, George Furnas, Richard Harshman, Thomas Landauer, Karen Lochbaum and Lynn Streeter. In the context of its application to information retrieval, it is sometimes called latent semantic indexing (LSI).