Microsoft's New Machine Translation System Accurately Translates Chinese to English

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The translation milestone was especially satisfying because of the possibilities it has for helping people understand each other better, Huang, who also led the group which recently achieved human parity in a conversational speech recognition task, said.

Researchers at the company have developed a new translation that's capable of translating news in Chinese to English with the same accuracy as real humans.

The encoder-decoder framework has achieved promising progress for many sequence generation tasks, including machine translation, text summarization, Q\&A, dialog system, image captioning, {\em etc}.

The researchers, based in Microsoft's Asia and USA labs, claimed in a blog post that their system achieved human parity on a commonly used test set of news stories, called Newstest2017. With this method, the English-to-Chinese translation system translates new English sentences into Chinese in order to obtain new sentence pairs.

The successful translation used a set of news stories which were set as a standardised test of machine learning translation capabilities at a conference in September previous year. The team also took advantage of a mix of training methods, including dual learning, which translates a sentence from Chinese to English, then back from English to Chinese to ensure it makes sense.

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"The pursuit of removing language barriers to help people communicate better is fantastic", he said.

With Microsoft Translator competing with the likes of Google Translate, the problem both of these services find is that translating languages is more like an art rather than a science. There is also an agreement regularization to enable the generation of translations through reading, either from left-to-right or vice versa.

Though limited to a single test, the results are impressive given the difficulty technology has traditionally experienced in translating Chinese into English and vice versa.

"We're working to bring this to production as soon as possible, but we have nothing to announce at this time", a spokesperson for Microsoft was quoted as saying. The researchers taught the system to repeat the process of translating the same sentence over and over, gradually refining and improving the response.

With its ability to accurately translate one of the most challenging languages, the system is already being heralded as a major breakthrough in machine language translation.

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