Synchronous Learning of ChineseWord Segmentation and Word Alignment

Jia Xu, Jianfeng Gao, Kristina Toutanova, Hermann Ney

In: Joseph Olive , Caitlin Christianson , John McCary . Handbook of Natural Language Processing and Machine Translation. Kapitel 2.2 Seiten 135-163 ISBN 978-1-4419-7712-0 Springer 2011.


Chinese sentences are written in the form of a sequence of Chinese characters; words are not separated by white spaces. This is different from most European languages and poses difficulty in many natural language processing tasks, such as machine translation. It is difficult to define correct Chinese word segmentation (CWS) and various definitions have been proposed. The common solution in Chinese-to-English translation has been to segment the Chinese text using an off-the-shelf CWS method and to apply a standard translation model given the fixed segmentation. The most widely applied method for MT is unigram segmentation, such as segmentation using the LDC (LDC 2003) tool, which requires a manual lexicon containing a list of Chinese words and their frequencies. The lexicon and frequencies are obtained using manually annotated data. This method is sub-optimal for MT, because words out of the manual lexicon cannot be generated. In addition to unigram segmentation, other methods have been proposed. For example, (Gao et al. 2005) described an adaptive CWS system and Andrew (2006) and Chang et. al. (2008) employed a conditional random field model for word segmentation. However, these methods are not specifically developed for the MT application, where Chinese word segmentation and translation model training are separate steps although they influence each other. In the work of Xu et al. (2004), word segmentations are learned from word alignments. We refine this method by integrating the Chinese word segmentation into the word alignment training so that the word segmentation and alignment can be learned synchronously and their effects on each other can be considered in the training. We present a log-linear model derived from a generative model which consists of a word model and two alignment models, representing the monolingual and bilingual information, respectively. The model is trained using Gibbs sampling. Alternative segmentation boundaries and realignments of words due to the change of these boundaries are taken into account in the sampling process. New Chinese words are generated using Dirichlet Process and the lexicon is updated dynamically. In this way, two problems are solved: adaptation to the parallel training corpus, and out of vocabulary words. Our experiments on both large (GALE) and small (IWSLT) data tracks of Chinese-to-English translation show that our method improves the performance of state-of-the-art machine translation systems.


Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence