Affiliations: European Commission – JRC (IPSC) Via E. Fermi, 2749 I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy. E-mail: [email protected] | Intelligent Systems Laboratory, Merchant Venturers Building, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UB, UK. E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]
Note:  Corresponding author.
Note:  Work developed while working at University of Bristol, UK.
Abstract: We describe the design of an autonomous agent that can teach itself how to translate from a foreign language, by first assembling its own training set, then using it to improve its vocabulary and language model. The key idea is that a Statistical Machine Translation package can be used for the Cross-Language Retrieval Task of assembling a training set from a vast amount of available text (e.g. a large multilingual corpus, or the Web) and then train on that data, repeating the process several times. The stability issues related to such a feedback loop are addressed by a mathematical model, connecting statistical and control-theoretic aspects of the system. We test it on controlled environment and real-world tasks, showing that indeed this agent can improve its translation performance autonomously and in a stable fashion, when seeded with a very small initial training set. We develop a multiprocessor version of the agent that directly accesses the Web using a Web search engine and taking advantage of the big amount of data available there. The modelling approach we develop for this agent is general, and we believe that it will be useful for an entire class of self-learning autonomous agents working on the Web.
Keywords: Self-learning, machine translation, stability analysis, Web access