, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 85-114,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 28 Aug 2012

N-gram posterior probability confidence measures for statistical machine translation: an empirical study


We report an empirical study of n-gram posterior probability confidence measures for statistical machine translation (SMT). We first describe an efficient and practical algorithm for rapidly computing n-gram posterior probabilities from large translation word lattices. These probabilities are shown to be a good predictor of whether or not the n-gram is found in human reference translations, motivating their use as a confidence measure for SMT. Comprehensive n-gram precision and word coverage measurements are presented for a variety of different language pairs, domains and conditions. We analyze the effect on reference precision of using single or multiple references, and compare the precision of posteriors computed from k-best lists to those computed over the full evidence space of the lattice. We also demonstrate improved confidence by combining multiple lattices in a multi-source translation framework.