DARPA names BBN Technologies to build language translator

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. 28 Nov. 2005. BBN Technologies announced today it has been awarded $16.4 million by the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a system for the Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) initiative to solve the human language technology problem of transcribing speech and computer encoded text directly into English text so that soldiers, commanders, and other decision makers have access to critical information quickly.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. 28 Nov. 2005. BBN Technologies announced today it has been awarded $16.4 million by the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a system for the Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) initiative to solve the human language technology problem of transcribing speech and computer encoded text directly into English text so that soldiers, commanders, and other decision makers have access to critical information quickly.

The success of ongoing and future U.S. government operations depends on the military's ability to monitor and respond quickly to evolving situations, which requires ongoing analysis of spoken and written communications in all languages. But the sheer volume of these communications and the corresponding shortage of analysts and translators to process them make it impossible to process them manually quickly enough for the information to be useful.

Therefore, automatic processing, which is much quicker than manual processing, must include not only automatic transcription (speech or text) but also automatic distillation of the resulting English text into needed information.

"BBN's vision is to develop human language technology that delivers timely, crucial, actionable information to the soldier or decision maker in English regardless of the original language or source," said Dr. John Makhoul, chief scientist for speech and language with BBN Technologies. "The real-time, highly accurate system that the BBN team will develop under DARPA's GALE program will be the basis for revolutionary improvements in the quality and timeliness of the information that is provided to the field."

BBN's approach maximizes accuracy by integrating the transcription, translation, and distillation components into a single process instead of using the traditional linked approach of speech-to-text (STT) followed by machine translation (MT) and distillation.

Because language, both speech and text, is fluid, automatic adaptation and contextually-aware processing will be used at all system levels to optimize performance by adapting to languages, dialects, topics, speakers, semantic nuance, and more. For the first time, MT and distillation technology will automatically adapt to the domain and terminology of interest to the user.

"BBN has been at the forefront of speech and language processing technologies for several decades now and we will continue to push the state of the art," said Tad Elmer, president and CEO of BBN Technologies. "We have a great group here at BBN and have formed a terrific team to tackle the considerable technical challenges of the GALE program."

BBN Technologies, an advanced technology and research and development firm, is focused on solving some of the world's most pressing problems. From national security, information security, speech recognition and language translation, to integrating disparate systems and networks, BBN has been at the forefront of technological change for over 50 years.

Known for pioneering the development of the ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet, BBN continues to create advances in Internet and networking technologies through its work on ad-hoc networking, the semantic web, quantum communications, and advanced protocols. Building on its substantial list of firsts, BBN operates the first metro quantum cryptography network, the first real-time foreign broadcast monitoring system, and has developed the world's first stereoscopic digital mammography system. For more information, see www.bbn.com.

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