Aquia Richburg


You’ve translated it, now what?
Michael Maxwell | Shabnam Tafreshi | Aquia Richburg | Balaji Kodali | Kymani Brown
Proceedings of the 15th Biennial Conference of the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas (Volume 2: Users and Providers Track and Government Track)

Humans use document formatting to discover document and section titles, and important phrases. But when machines process a paper–especially documents OCRed from images–these cues are often invisible to downstream processes: words in footnotes or body text are treated as just as important as words in titles. It would be better for indexing and summarization tools to be guided by implicit document structure. In an ODNI-sponsored project, ARLIS looked at discovering formatting in OCRed text as a way to infer document structure. Most OCR engines output results as hOCR (an XML format), giving bounding boxes around characters. In theory, this also provides style information such as bolding and italicization, but in practice, this capability is limited. For example, the Tesseract OCR tool provides bounding boxes, but does not attempt to detect bold text (relevant to author emphasis and specialized fields in e.g. print dictionaries), and its discrimination of italicization is poor. Our project inferred font size from hOCR bounding boxes, and using that and other cues (e.g. the fact that titles tend to be short) determined which text constituted section titles; from this, a document outline can be created. We also experimented with algorithms for detecting bold text. Our best algorithm has a much improved recall and precision, although the exact numbers are font-dependent. The next step is to incorporate inferred structure into the output of machine translation. One way is to embed XML tags for inferred structure into the text extracted from the imaged document, and to either pass the strings enclosed by XML tags to the MT engine individually, or pass the tags through the MT engine without modification. This structural information can guide downstream bulk processing tasks such as summarization and search, and also enables building tables of contents for human users examining individual documents.

Data Cartography for Low-Resource Neural Machine Translation
Aquia Richburg | Marine Carpuat
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

While collecting or generating more parallel data is necessary to improve machine translation (MT) in low-resource settings, we lack an understanding of how the limited amounts of existing data are actually used to help guide the collection of further resources. In this paper, we apply data cartography techniques (Swayamdipta et al., 2020) to characterize the contribution of training samples in two low-resource MT tasks (Swahili-English and Turkish-English) throughout the training of standard neural MT models. Our empirical study shows that, unlike in prior work for classification tasks, most samples contribute to model training in low-resource MT, albeit not uniformly throughout the training process. Furthermore, uni-dimensional characterizations of samples – e.g., based on dual cross-entropy or word frequency – do not suffice to characterize to what degree they are hard or easy to learn. Taken together, our results suggest that data augmentation strategies for low-resource MT would benefit from model-in-the-loop strategies to maximize improvements.


An Evaluation of Subword Segmentation Strategies for Neural Machine Translation of Morphologically Rich Languages
Aquia Richburg | Ramy Eskander | Smaranda Muresan | Marine Carpuat
Proceedings of the The Fourth Widening Natural Language Processing Workshop

Byte-Pair Encoding (BPE) (Sennrich et al., 2016) has become a standard pre-processing step when building neural machine translation systems. However, it is not clear whether this is an optimal strategy in all settings. We conduct a controlled comparison of subword segmentation strategies for translating two low-resource morphologically rich languages (Swahili and Turkish) into English. We show that segmentations based on a unigram language model (Kudo, 2018) yield comparable BLEU and better recall for translating rare source words than BPE.