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A Markov Model of Machine Translation using Non-parametric Bayesian Inference

Yang Feng and Trevor Cohn

The 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2013)
Sofia, Bulgaria, August 4-9, 2013


Most modern machine translation systems use phrase pairs as translation units, allowing for accurate modelling of phrase-internal translation and reordering. However phrase-based approaches are much less able to model sentence level effects between different phrase-pairs. We propose a new model to address this imbalance, based on a word-based Markov model of translation which generates target translations left-to-right. Our model encodes word and phrase level phenomena by conditioning translation decisions on previous decisions and uses a hierarchical Pitman-Yor Process prior to provide dynamic adaptive smoothing. This mechanism implicitly supports not only traditional phrase pairs, but also gapping phrases which are non-consecutive in the source. Our experiments on Chinese to English and Arabic to English translation show consistent improvements over competitive baselines, of up to +3.4 BLEU.

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