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Theses Doctoral

Pivot-based Statistical Machine Translation for Morphologically Rich Languages

Kholy, Ahmed El

This thesis describes the research efforts on pivot-based statistical machine translation (SMT) for morphologically rich languages (MRL). We provide a framework to translate to and from morphologically rich languages especially in the context of having little or no parallel corpora between the source and the target languages. We basically address three main challenges. The first one is the sparsity of data as a result of morphological richness. The second one is maximizing the precision and recall of the pivoting process itself. And the last one is making use of any parallel data between the source and the target languages. To address the challenge of data sparsity, we explored a space of tokenization schemes and normalization options. We also examined a set of six detokenization techniques to evaluate detokenized and orthographically corrected (enriched) output. We provide a recipe of the best settings to translate to one of the most challenging languages, namely Arabic. Our best model improves the translation quality over the baseline by 1.3 BLEU points. We also investigated the idea of separation between translation and morphology generation. We compared three methods of modeling morphological features. Features can be modeled as part of the core translation. Alternatively these features can be generated using target monolingual context. Finally, the features can be predicted using both source and target information. In our experimental results, we outperform the vanilla factored translation model. In order to decide on which features to translate, generate or predict, a detailed error analysis should be provided on the system output. As a result, we present AMEANA, an open-source tool for error analysis of natural language processing tasks, targeting morphologically rich languages. The second challenge we are concerned with is the pivoting process itself. We discuss several techniques to improve the precision and recall of the pivot matching. One technique to improve the recall works on the level of the word alignment as an optimization process for pivoting driven by generating phrase pairs between source and target languages. Despite the fact that improving the recall of the pivot matching improves the overall translation quality, we also need to increase the precision of the pivot quality. To achieve this, we introduce quality constraints scores to determine the quality of the pivot phrase pairs between source and target languages. We show positive results for different language pairs which shows the consistency of our approaches. In one of our best models we reach an improvement of 1.2 BLEU points. The third challenge we are concerned with is how to make use of any parallel data between the source and the target languages. We build on the approach of improving the precision of the pivoting process and the methods of combination between the pivot system and the direct system built from the parallel data. In one of the approaches, we introduce morphology constraint scores which are added to the log linear space of features in order to determine the quality of the pivot phrase pairs. We compare two methods of generating the morphology constraints. One method is based on hand-crafted rules relying on our knowledge of the source and target languages; while in the other method, the morphology constraints are induced from available parallel data between the source and target languages which we also use to build a direct translation model. We then combine both the pivot and direct models to achieve better coverage and overall translation quality. Using induced morphology constraints outperformed the handcrafted rules and improved over our best model from all previous approaches by 0.6 BLEU points (7.2/6.7 BLEU points from the direct and pivot baselines respectively). Finally, we introduce applying smart techniques to combine pivot and direct models. We show that smart selective combination can lead to a large reduction of the pivot model without affecting the performance and in some cases improving it.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Thesis Advisors
Passonneau, Rebecca
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 9, 2016