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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
March 2007, Vol. 33, No. 1, Pages 9-40
(doi: 10.1162/coli.2007.33.1.9)
© 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Word-Level Confidence Estimation for Machine Translation
Article PDF (288.83 KB)

This article introduces and evaluates several different word-level confidence measures for machine translation. These measures provide a method for labeling each word in an automatically generated translation as correct or incorrect. All approaches to confidence estimation presented here are based on word posterior probabilities. Different concepts of word posterior probabilities as well as different ways of calculating them will be introduced and compared. They can be divided into two categories: System-based methods that explore knowledge provided by the translation system that generated the translations, and direct methods that are independent of the translation system. The system-based techniques make use of system output, such as word graphs or N-best lists. The word posterior probability is determined by summing the probabilities of the sentences in the translation hypothesis space that contains the target word. The direct confidence measures take other knowledge sources, such as word or phrase lexica, into account. They can be applied to output from nonstatistical machine translation systems as well.

Experimental assessment of the different confidence measures on various translation tasks and in several language pairs will be presented. Moreover,the application of confidence measures for rescoring of translation hypotheses will be investigated.