Posted: 06/10/16

Iconic Translation Machines (Iconic), a leading Irish machine translation (MT) software and solutions provider, announced a strategic collaboration on neural machine translation (NMT) with the world-leading machine translation group at the ADAPT Centre.

Iconic will build on exciting evaluation results to date and integrate NMT systems into its proprietary Ensemble ArchitectureTM early next year to become one of the first commercial MT providers to integrate NMT into live translation projects

Based on deep learning and artificial intelligence, NMT promises a new paradigm in natural language processing, and has the potential to revolutionise the world of MT.  As neural networks can directly learn the relationship between two languages, NMT systems are expected to dramatically impact on MT quality by producing more natural sounding and accurate translations for morphologically rich languages.

However, while NMT has been heralded as the next big thing by the MT research community and among some of the Internet MT giants, “systematic comparison with large-scale, production-quality, phrase-based translation systems has been lacking”.  Iconic is going one step ahead by undertaking this exact systematic comparison of NMT with its superior quality production MT systems in collaboration with ADAPT.

Iconic has already provided ADAPT researchers with specific training material and a benchmark of state-of-the-art production performance. Early results on Chinese patent documents are already demonstrating the quality improvements that can be realised by NMT. Going forward, Iconic will share detailed analysis of early NMT output.

“We are excited to be working so closely again with some of the world’s leading researchers at the ADAPT Research Centre on a broad neural machine translation technology collaboration. ADAPT are leading the charge in research in this field and we look forward to combining our MT expertise with theirs,” said John Tinsley, CEO at Iconic. The ADAPT research centre collaborates with industry to develop next generation digital technologies by helping to analyse, personalise and deliver digital data more effectively for businesses and individuals.

The expert team of MT scientists and engineers at Iconic is already working on the integration of NMT components into Iconic’s proprietary Ensemble ArchitectureTM. Iconic will combine the substantial benefits of NMT with the suite of its own existing technology components and expertise in order to overcome any NMT shortcomings.

“Iconic’s neural machine translation solutions will fortify our market-leading position as a provider of best-in-class software, especially for languages that are difficult for machine translation such as Korean and German. Neural systems have already demonstrated the capability to handle the complexities of such languages by default.” he added.

Head of the MT team in ADAPT at DCU, Professor Andy Way, a prominent thought-leader in the field, commented: “Neural Machine Translation has rapidly become dominant in academic circles. However, we have seen new paradigm shifts in MT before, so it is far too soon to dismiss phrase-based SMT systems altogether. Only by careful side-by-side comparison, as demonstrated in this project with Iconic – one of our spin-off companies – can we accurately decide what the best way forward will be, especially when it comes to industrial applications of MT. We look forward to further engagement with Iconic on projects of mutual interest”.

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