Tuesday, May 19, 2009

12th Grader Shapes Translation History?

I don't know if anyone in the Millburn School District (New Jersey) had heard of machine translation before they met Hayden Metsky, but I'm sure they all have now.

According to yesterday's issue of the Independent Press, the local paper there in Millburn, New Jersey--wherever that is, the 12th grade Metsky and his teacher, Paul Gilmore, won an all-expense paid trip to Reno Nevada for the International Science and Engineering Fair. "As a finalist in the North Jersey Regional Science Fair, the preliminary competition for the ISEF, Mr. Metsky and three other students won trips for themselves and a teacher to the finals...He was also a finalist in the 2009 Intel Science Talent Search and in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology."

Young Metsky's project? "Improving Statistical Machine Translation Through Template-based Phrase-table Extensions," a title even I don't understand. And, from what I gathered from the Independent Press report, neither did the journalist who wrote the article. Only stating that the project "involves a method of improving translation between world languages [and that Metsky] created software aimed at increasing the accuracy of automated computer translation, called machine translation," the article doesn't discuss Metsky's project itself, only what machine translation is, something most people who care about the topic already know.

I personally would like to learn more about the student's project. Any effort to improve machine translation can only be a good thing, if not for the industry, then at least for the world. And the advancements have got to come from somewhere. To quote Common Sense Advisory guru, Renato Beninatto, a bit out of context, "Nothing will change until we keep trying to out-Trados Trados. Innovation requires paradigm shift to collaboration & real open source." Maybe Mr Metsky, then, is exactly what this industry needs. We grown-ups tend to have our politics, if not our corporate maneuverings, and I think it's really cool, for lack of a better word, that the latest advancement I've heard of has come from some kid in New Jersey.

Not to mention the fact that one of the top prizes in a recent science and engineering competition had to do with translation.

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