This award is to support a collaborative project by Dr. Lori Levin, Senior Research Scientist, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Dr. Khaled Shaalan, Faculty of Computer and Information, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt. The scientists plan to develop a system for computer translation of spoken Arabic into English, French, Italian, German and Korean, and also for translation of these languages into Arabic. Translations will be limited to sentences about travel plans (e.g. hotel and plane reservations). The developed system will conform to the requirements of the C-STAR consortium (Consortium for Speech Translation Advanced Research) a group of research centers collaborating with each other in the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Korea. Adding Arabic to the C-STAR system will involve three technological components: development of a Arabic speech recognizer which can automatically transcribe Arabic sentences that are spoken into a microphone; analysis of the meaning of Arabic sentences; generation of Arabic sentences from the meaning of input sentences in English and other languages.
Scope: The US PI and the Egyptian teams have extensive experience in this area of research, and have access to major research facilities that are needed for this work. Scientists at CMU have been working on machine translation of written and spoken the language for fifteen years in the Language Technologies Institute (LTI) and the Interactive Systems Laboratory (ISL). Their most notable translation systems are the KANT system for written language and the JANUS system for spoken language. Scientists at Cairo University have been working on natural language processing (NLP) for ten years, and have produced a morphological processor, parser, and grammar for Arabic, and have also worked on English to Arabic machine translation. The two universities have complementary NLP components and other capabilities. This proposal meets the INT objective of supporting collaborative research in areas of mutual interest. This project is being supported under the US-Egypt Joint Fund Program, which provides grants to scientists and engineers in both countries to carry out these cooperative activities.