The History of Machine Translation

Speaker: John Hutchins
Date: Thu 15th November 2012
Time: 14:00

Fellows Library of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD


The IBM 701 at IBM headquarters, where the first public demonstration of machine translation took place in January 1954

About the seminar

This talk will give an outline of events in the history of machine translation from the beginnings in the 1940s to the present day. It will cover the great variety of approaches to the use of computers for translation: the earliest word-for-word systems, dictionary-based systems, the first operational systems in the 1960s, the use of interlinguas (intermediary languages), the various rule-based systems which dominated the 1970s and 1980s, and the statistical systems which succeeded them in the early 1990s and remain dominant to the present day.

Also covered briefly will be the main centres of research world-wide (USA, USSR, Europe, Japan, China, etc.) and the principal developments in current activity.

The talk will be followed by discussion.

About the speaker

John Hutchins is the author of several books and articles on linguistics, information retrieval and in particular on machine translation. He has been a speaker at many machine translation conferences. He has been president of the European Association for Machine Translation, 1995-2004, and president of the International Association for Machine Translation, 1999-2001.


More on this topic is available on the Personal Website of John Hutchins. His principal works include Machine Translation: Past, Present, Future (Chichester: Ellis Horwood, 1986), An Introduction to Machine Translation [with Harold Somers] (London: Academic Press, 1992), and editor of Early Years in Machine Translation: memoirs and biographies of pioneers (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2000).

He was editor of MT News International from 1991 until 1997; from 2000 until last year he edited the Compendium of translation software, a directory of commercial MT systems and translation aids; and since 2004 he has compiled the Machine Translation Archive, an electronic repository of publications on MT and related topics, now containing over 9000 items.

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