What is TF-IDF and how does it work?

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What is TF-IDF

TF stands for term frequency. IDF stands for inverse document frequency. TF-IDF stands for the multiplication between Term frequency and inverse data frequency.

Why are these important? These calculations help us in finding out the important words in a text which gives us an idea about what the document is talking about. It helps in removing words like “the”, “is ” which are known as stop words. These are used widely in search and recommendation engines.


TF- Term Frequency-term frequency

TF(w)=(Number of times  word w appears in a document/ total number of words in the document)

IDF- Inverse document frequency-Inverse document freqency

IDF(w)= log (total number of documents/ Number of documents with word w)

TF-IDF is the multiplication of Term frequency and inverse document frequency.

TF IDF example:

Let us take two sentences

sentence 1– the earth is the third planet from the sun
sentence 2– the earth is the largest planet

We calculate the TF IDF scores as shown in the image below.TF IDF calucation

As you can see

TF IDF is zero for stop words which don’t help in understanding what a document is talking about-


TF IDF is non zero for important words such as as-


As we input more documents into the TF IDF system, the accuracy of the TF IDF calculation increases.

Here is an open-source library for implementing TF IDF

open source TF IDF

If you are looking to implement a TF IDF based search engine, you can use the below button.

Create your TF IDF based search engine

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