Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A rose is a rózsa is a 薔薇: Image-search tool speaks hundreds of languages

14.09.2007
From the fall of the Tower of Babel to the Esperanto global language movement, many humans have dreamed of sharing a common tongue. Despite the Internet's promise of global communication, language barriers remain. Even pictures on the Web get lost in translation.

"Images are universal, but image search is not," said Oren Etzioni, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. "A person who types his or her search in English won't find images tagged in Chinese, and a Dutch person won't find images tagged in English. We've created a collaborative tool that solves this problem."

A new multilingual search tool developed at the UW's Turing Center makes the universal appeal of pictures available to all. PanImages, presented today at the Machine Translation Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, allows people to search for images on the Web using hundreds of languages.

Search engines such as Google look for images by detecting the search term in captions and other nearby text. But since the process looks for a string of letters, the results are limited to the seeker's mother tongue.

The new tool is named PanImages, from the Greek prefix, "pan," meaning whole or all-inclusive. It automatically translates the search term into about 300 other languages, suggests a few that might work and then displays images from Google and the online photo database Flickr.

PanImages promises to help people who speak languages that have a small Web presence. Imagine you are a Zulu speaker looking for a picture of a refrigerator, Etzioni said. You type the Zulu word for refrigerator ("ifriji") into an image search and get two results. The same search using PanImages generates 472,000 hits. In a test of so-called minor languages, PanImages was able to find 57 times more results, on average, than a Google image search.

"We want to serve the vast number of people who don't speak one of the major languages," Etzioni said. "As the Internet becomes more widely available outside of the major industrialized nations, it becomes increasingly important to serve people who don't speak English, French or Chinese."

Even people who speak these more common languages can benefit by switching electronic tongues. Words that have more than one meaning inevitably produce unwanted results. For instance, typing the word "spring" in an English-language image search generates diverse images: grassy meadows, metal coils and pictures from the town of Silver Spring, Md. If you want images of a metal spring, you might use PanImages and search for the more precise French word "ressort." If you want a picture of a rectangular bar and don't want businesses where patrons drink alcohol, you might try the Russian word "áðóñîê." Experiments showed that, for common languages, PanImages nearly doubles the number of correct images on the first 15 pages of results.

PanImages' powerful brains were created by scanning more than 350 machine-readable online dictionaries. Some of these were "wiktionaries," online multilingual dictionaries written by volunteers. The PanImages software scans these dictionaries and uses an algorithm to check the accuracy of the results. It then assembles the results in a matrix that allows translation in combinations that may never have been attempted -- for instance, from Gujarati to Lithuanian.

"It's an unprecedented lexical resource. The most distinguishing element is its ability to scale to such a broad set of languages," Etzioni said. "Our goal is to ultimately cover all the languages people are interested in."

Free online translation services used by Yahoo! and Google incorporate just one or two dozen common languages. In the United States, research on machine translation tends to focus on languages with military importance, such as Arabic and Chinese, Etzioni said. PanImages had 50 languages earlier this year and by June it incorporated 100 languages. It now includes some 300 languages, 2.5 million words and millions of individual translations.

PanImages also lets people instantly add new words or translations.

Future work on PanImages will scour more online dictionaries to expand the number of words and languages it can handle. Researchers also hope to translate the words used in tagging sites, such as del.icio.us, where visitors use single-word labels to describe the page's content.

"Our goal is to promote pan-lingual translation," said Etzioni. "With this first step, we've created a service we hope will be a handy tool."

Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht High Number of Science Enthusiasts in Switzerland
05.02.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Between filter bubbles, uneven visibility and transnationality
06.12.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>