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Machine Translation: Its Scope and Limits

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Machine Translation (MT) is both an engineering technology and a measure of all things to do with languages and computers—whenever a new theory of language or linguistics is offered, an important criteria for its success is whether or not it will improve machine translation.

This book presents a history of machine translation (MT) from the point of view of a major writer and innovator in the subject. It describes and contrasts a range of approaches to the challenges and problems of this remarkable technology by means of a combination of historic papers along with commentaries to update their significance, both at the time of their writing and now. This volume chronicles the evolution of conflicting approaches to MT towards a somewhat skeptical consensus on future progress. Also included is a discussion of the most recent developments in the field and prospects for the future, which have been much changed by the arrival of the World Wide Web.

About the Author

Yorick Wilks is Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sheffield and a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. He is a Fellow of the American and European Associations for Artificial Intelligence, and a member of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) College of Computing. He is the permanent UK member of the International Committee on Computational Linguistics that runs COLING, the world’s major biennial conference. His doctorate at Cambridge was in metaphysical argument, and before Sheffield and Oxford he researched and taught at Cambridge, Stanford, Edinburgh, Essex, and New Mexico State Universities. He has worked on major Government MT projects in the EU (Eurotra) and the US (Pangloss) and was for many years a US Government consultant on the evaluation of MT systems. In 1997 a team working with his design won the Loebner Prize in New York for the best computer conversationalist of the year. He has been a founder, editor or on the Editorial Board of many journals, including the eponymous Journal of Machine Translation. He has written some seven books in the area of Artificial Intelligence and language, published by Routledge. Kluwer, Ablex, Springer and MIT and Cambridge University Presses, the most recent being "Electric Words" (MIT Press, with Louise Guthrie and Brian Slator) and "Artificial Believers" (Ablex, with Afzal Ballim). He is currently the Coordinator of the 13meuro, 4 year, 15 site, European Commission Integrated Project COMPANIONS (see http://www.nlp.shef.ac.uk/companions/) that seeks to develop intelligent, personalized, permanent, conversational interfaces to the Internet.

Wilks was awarded the Antonio Zampolli prize by the European Language Resources Association in 2008.  This prize is given to individuals whose work lies within the areas of Language Resources and Language Technology Evaluation with acknowledged contributions to their advancements.  He was also the recipient of an ACL Life Achievement Award at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics this year.

 

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