Published on 20/03/2024
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Qianwen Ariel Xu
Qianwen Ariel Xu, PhD student
  • Qianwen Ariel Xu made a special computer programme that can accurately establish emotions
  • The sentiment analysis model combines multi-view learning and explainable artificial intelligence (XAI)
  • It is hoped businesses will be able to make better decisions based on what people are saying online.

An Aston University PhD student has come up with a new way to understand people's feelings through their text and emoji use on social media. 

Qianwen Ariel Xu, who studies sentiment analysis models, made a special computer programme that can accurately establish emotions in a way that makes it easier for businesses to understand customer sentiment and keep up with fast-changing digital trends.

A sentiment analysis model is an algorithm that reads text to determine whether the sentiment is positive, negative or neutral. It does this by looking at the words and emojis people use. These models study what customers think about products, analyse feedback and establish potential social media trends. 

The model combines multi-view learning and explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) that enhances the accuracy and interpretability of sentiment analysis for high-stakes decision-making. It incorporates emojis with text to offer deeper insights into sentiment, filling a gap in sentiment analysis by simulating real emoji usage, helping businesses to make better decisions based on what people are saying online.

Qianwen Ariel Xu said:

“This new model needs very little data preparation, making it quick and precise when analysing big data sets. 

“This is great for businesses trying to keep up with fast-changing digital trends.

“Understanding market trends and what customers want, especially in real-time, is more important than ever with today's fast-paced business changes.

“I am excited to see how this work can be applied to real-world challenges and look forward to further advancing the field of sentiment analysis.”

Professor Victor Chang, professor of business analytics at Aston University, said:

“Ariel's research exemplifies the cutting-edge, impactful work being undertaken by our PhD students at Aston University. 

“The research aligns closely with Aston University's commitment to delivering high-quality, applicable research as part of its Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2029 and Aston 2030 strategy.

“Ariel's Google Scholar citations have now surpassed 1,000 and has published extensively in reputable journals. She has been regarded as a young rising star by her peers.

“Her innovative approach to sentiment analysis has the potential to transform decision-making across sectors, from marketing and customer service to public policy. 

“We’ve discussed this research for two years and we are immensely proud of her achievements.”

The full paper is available here.

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7446 910063 or email:

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