Back-translation is a well established approach to improve the performance of Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems when large monolingual corpora of the target language and domain are available. Recently, diverse approaches have been proposed to get better automatic evaluation results of NMT models using back-translation, including the use of sampling instead of beam search as decoding algorithm for creating the synthetic corpus. Alternatively, it has been proposed to append a tag to the back-translated corpus for helping the NMT system to distinguish the synthetic bilingual corpus from the authentic one. However, not all the combinations of the previous approaches have been tested, and thus it is not clear which is the best approach for developing a given NMT system. In this work, we empirically compare and combine existing techniques for back-translation in a real low resource setting: the translation of clinical notes from Basque into Spanish. Apart from automatically evaluating the MT systems, we ask bilingual healthcare workers to perform a human evaluation, and analyze the different synthetic corpora by measuring their lexical diversity (LD). For reproducibility and generalizability, we repeat our experiments for German to English translation using public data. The results suggest that in lower resource scenarios tagging only helps when using sampling for decoding, in contradiction with the previous literature using bigger corpora from the news domain. When fine-tuning with a few thousand bilingual in-domain sentences, one of our proposed method (tagged restricted sampling) obtains the best results both in terms of automatic and human evaluation. We will publish the code upon acceptance.
In this paper we describe the systems developed at Ixa for our participation in WMT20 Biomedical shared task in three language pairs, en-eu, en-es and es-en. When defining our approach, we have put the focus on making an efficient use of corpora recently compiled for training Machine Translation (MT) systems to translate Covid-19 related text, as well as reusing previously compiled corpora and developed systems for biomedical or clinical domain. Regarding the techniques used, we base on the findings from our previous works for translating clinical texts into Basque, making use of clinical terminology for adapting the MT systems to the clinical domain. However, after manually inspecting some of the outputs generated by our systems, for most of the submissions we end up using the system trained only with the basic corpus, since the systems including the clinical terminologies generated outputs shorter in length than the corresponding references. Thus, we present simple baselines for translating abstracts between English and Spanish (en/es); while for translating abstracts and terms from English into Basque (en-eu), we concatenate the best en-es system for each kind of text with our es-eu system. We present automatic evaluation results in terms of BLEU scores, and analyse the effect of including clinical terminology on the average sentence length of the generated outputs. Following the recent recommendations for a responsible use of GPUs for NLP research, we include an estimation of the generated CO2 emissions, based on the power consumed for training the MT systems.
Machine translation (MT) has benefited from using synthetic training data originating from translating monolingual corpora, a technique known as backtranslation. Combining backtranslated data from different sources has led to better results than when using such data in isolation. In this work we analyse the impact that data translated with rule-based, phrase-based statistical and neural MT systems has on new MT systems. We use a real-world low-resource use-case (Basque-to-Spanish in the clinical domain) as well as a high-resource language pair (German-to-English) to test different scenarios with backtranslation and employ data selection to optimise the synthetic corpora. We exploit different data selection strategies in order to reduce the amount of data used, while at the same time maintaining high-quality MT systems. We further tune the data selection method by taking into account the quality of the MT systems used for backtranslation and lexical diversity of the resulting corpora. Our experiments show that incorporating backtranslated data from different sources can be beneficial, and that availing of data selection can yield improved performance.