26 Jan 2010

Analysis of statistical machine translation into Finnish

Associate Professor Anoop Sarkar recently won a Google Research Award for research into statistical machine translation.

The Google Research Awards are for faculty around the world who pursue innovative research that is relevant to Google’s mission, to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The award consists of substantial grant money, and the opportunity to share in Google’s facilities and give talks related to the research.

Thanks to Google’s generous funding, members of the Natural Language Lab at SFU will be tackling the problem of translation into languages that are very different from English. Lab members, Ph.D. student Baskaran Sankaran and Masters student Ann Clifton, are currently in the process of developing such methods as part of their thesis work.

Many of the recently developed statistical machine translation systems focus on translation into English. The machine learning algorithms used for machine translation are implicitly biased towards producing output in English and similar languages. They are much weaker at dealing with translation from English into a target language with very different grammar and word formation rules. New algorithms and models that augment existing statistical machine translation models are needed to deal with these issues.