A novel dependency-based evaluation metric for machine translation
Owczarzak, Karolina (2008) A novel dependency-based evaluation metric for machine translation. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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Automatic evaluation measures such as BLEU (Papineni et al. (2002)) and NIST (Doddington (2002)) are indispensable in the development of Machine Translation (MT) systems, because they allow MT developers to conduct frequent, fast, and cost-effective evaluations of their evolving translation models. However, most of the automatic evaluation metrics rely on a comparison of word strings, measuring only the surface similarity of the candidate and reference translations, and will penalize any divergence. In effect,a candidate translation expressing the source meaning accurately and fluently will be given a low score if the lexical and syntactic choices it contains, even though perfectly legitimate, are not present in at least one of the references. Necessarily, this score would differ from a much more favourable human judgment that such a translation would receive.
This thesis presents a method that automatically evaluates the quality of translation based on the labelled dependency structure of the sentence, rather than on its surface form. Dependencies abstract away from the some of the particulars of the surface string realization and provide a more "normalized" representation of (some) syntactic variants
of a given sentence. The translation and reference files are analyzed by a treebank-based, probabilistic Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) parser (Cahill et al. (2004)) for English, which produces a set of dependency triples for each input. The translation set is compared to the reference set, and the number of matches is calculated, giving the precision, recall, and f-score for that particular translation. The use of WordNet synonyms and partial matching during the evaluation process allows for adequate treatment of lexical variation, while employing a number of best parses helps neutralize the noise
introduced during the parsing stage.
The dependency-based method is compared against a number of other popular MT evaluation metrics, including BLEU, NIST, GTM (Turian et al. (2003)), TER (Snover et al. (2006)), and METEOR (Banerjee and Lavie (2005)), in terms of segment- and
system-level correlations with human judgments of fluency and adequacy. We also examine whether it shows bias towards statistical MT models. The comparison of the dependency-based method with other evaluation metrics is
then extended to languages other than English: French, German, Spanish, and Japanese, where we apply our method to dependencies generated by Microsoft's NLPWin analyzer (Corston-Oliver and Dolan (1999); Heidorn (2000)) as well as, in the case of the Spanish data, those produced by the treebank-based, probabilistic LFG parser of Chrupa la and
van Genabith (2006a,b).
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