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EuroMatrix: Statistical and Hybrid Machine Translation Between All European Languages

Project description

Multimodal Interfaces Teaching computers to translate

An ambitious project to develop software capable of automatically translating between the European Union’s 23 official languages promises to help governments, businesses and citizens communicate more easily and cheaply.

Called Moses, the open source software is being developed by a team of researchers in the EUROMATRIX project. They aim to provide the EU’s private and public sectors with the means to translate documents quickly and accurately between any of the 27-nation bloc’s language pairs.

To achieve that goal, the researchers are relying on innovative technologies to take machine translation beyond the current state of the art.

Billions of euros spent on translations

Currently, European governments, European institutions, companies and citizens spend billions of euros a year employing an army of translators to translate legislation, business documents and legal papers between European languages.

The workload has more than doubled in recent years as the EU has gone from 15 Member States to 27 and from 11 official languages to 23.

Machine translation, in which computers rather than people do the work, has been an option for years, although its poor quality has generally made it unviable for anything but the most rudimentary uses.

As anyone who has ever attempted to translate text on the internet knows, the output of many automated systems is often littered with punctuation errors, misplaced words and grammatical mistakes that can make the text almost unintelligible.

Developing a viable alternative to human translators

To make machine translation a viable alternative to human translation, the EUROMATRIX researchers saw the need for a new approach. Instead of simply following the path of earlier systems, which translate texts using a set of predefined linguistic rules and a constrained lexicon, the EUROMATRIX team developed software to allow the computer to learn to translate from past work and experience.

In essence, the approach relies on the computer program referring to an existing body of translated text and using statistical analysis to determine how words are used.

The internet makes finding the necessarily vast body of existing translations easy, allowing the system to draw on texts in different languages to greatly improve the accuracy of translations over uniquely rule-based approaches.

The researchers have also investigated a hybrid approach, merging both statistical and rule-based systems.

Translation workshops and commercial interest

In order to demonstrate Moses, the EUROMATRIX team has organised a series of workshops involving universities across Europe, while the open source software itself has already elicited commercial interest.

Moses is currently being used by several big European organisations as well as some small and medium businesses, according to the project partners.

Call for proposal

FP6-2005-IST-5
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

STREP - Specific Targeted Research Project

Coordinator

UNIVERSITAT DES SAARLANDES
Address
Campus
66123 Saarbrucken
Germany
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 813 000

Participants (5)

UNIVERZITA KARLOVA
Czechia
EU contribution
€ 265 111
Address
Ovocny Trh 560/5
116 36 Praha 1
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
GROUP TECHNOLOGIES AG

Participation ended

Germany
EU contribution
€ 102 391
Address
Hospitalstr. 6
99817 Eisenach
Activity type
Other
MORPHOLOGIC SZAMITASTECHNIKAI KFT
Hungary
EU contribution
€ 106 000
Address
Kardhegy Utca
1116 Budapest
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
CENTRE FOR THE EVALUATION OF LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES SCRL
Italy
EU contribution
€ 94 636
Address
Via Sommarive 18
38123 Povo - Trento
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 685 250
Address
Old College, South Bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments