An Overview on Machine Translation Evaluation

22 Feb 2022  ·  Lifeng Han ·

Since the 1950s, machine translation (MT) has become one of the important tasks of AI and development, and has experienced several different periods and stages of development, including rule-based methods, statistical methods, and recently proposed neural network-based learning methods. Accompanying these staged leaps is the evaluation research and development of MT, especially the important role of evaluation methods in statistical translation and neural translation research. The evaluation task of MT is not only to evaluate the quality of machine translation, but also to give timely feedback to machine translation researchers on the problems existing in machine translation itself, how to improve and how to optimise. In some practical application fields, such as in the absence of reference translations, the quality estimation of machine translation plays an important role as an indicator to reveal the credibility of automatically translated target languages. This report mainly includes the following contents: a brief history of machine translation evaluation (MTE), the classification of research methods on MTE, and the the cutting-edge progress, including human evaluation, automatic evaluation, and evaluation of evaluation methods (meta-evaluation). Manual evaluation and automatic evaluation include reference-translation based and reference-translation independent participation; automatic evaluation methods include traditional n-gram string matching, models applying syntax and semantics, and deep learning models; evaluation of evaluation methods includes estimating the credibility of human evaluations, the reliability of the automatic evaluation, the reliability of the test set, etc. Advances in cutting-edge evaluation methods include task-based evaluation, using pre-trained language models based on big data, and lightweight optimisation models using distillation techniques.

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