Interview: Working on KantanMT – a Developers Perspective

Eduardo shanahan
Eduardo Shanahan, CNGL

Eduardo Shanahan, a Senior Software Engineer at CNGL spent time working on KantanMT during its early days. KantanMT asked Eduardo to talk about what it was like to work with Founder and Chief Architect, Tony O’Dowd and the rest of the team developing the KantanMT product.

What was your initial impression, when you joined DLab in DCU?

This past year was a different kind adventure. After more than two decades working with Microsoft products like Visual Studio, so it was a big change, moving to Dublin City University (DCU) to be part of the Design and Innovation Lab, or DLab as we call it. The work in DLab consists of transforming code written by researchers into industrial quality products.

One of the first changes was to get a Mac and start deploying code in Linux, with no Visual Studio or even Mono. Instead I worked mostly with Python and NodeJS, and piles of shell scripts. Linux and Python, were not new to me but they did take some adjusting to using them.

This was a completely new environment and a new experience, and I was working in a whole new area. Back then, my relationship with Artificial Intelligence (AI) was informal to say the least, and I wasn’t even aware that something like Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) existed.

How did you get involved with working on KantanMT?

Starting out, I was working on a variety of different projects simultaneously.  A few months into it though, I started working full time with a couple of researchers creating new functionality for Tony and his KantanMT product, which is based on open source Moses technology. Moses technology uses aligned target and source texts of parallel corpora to train a SMT translation system. Once the system is trained, search algorithms are applied to find the most suitable translation matches. This translation model can be applied to any language pair.

What were your goals working on the KantanMT project?

Tony is doing a great job, deploying it on Amazon Web Services and creating a set of tools to streamline the operations for end users. His request to CNGL, was to provide more advanced insight into the translation quality produced by Moses.

To accomplish this, the task was mapped to two successive projects with different researchers on each project. The pace was very intense, we wanted state of the art results that showed up in the applications. Sandipan Dandapat, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Guwahati and Aswarth Dara, Research Assistant at CNGL, DCU worked on adding real value to the KantanMT product during those long weeks, while I was rewriting their code time after time until it passed all the tests and then some. Our hard work paid off when KantanWatch™ and KantanAalytics™ were born.

Each attempt to deliver was an experience in itself, Tony was quick to detect any inconsistencies and wanted to be extra sure about understanding all the details and steps on the research and implementation.

In your opinion was the work a success?

The end result, is something that has made me proud. The mix between being a scientist and having a real product to implement is a very good combination. The guys at DCU have done a great job on the product base and DLab is a fantastic research and work environment.  The no nonsense attitude from Tony’s side created a very interesting situation and It’s something that we can really celebrate after a year of hard work.

The CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content

The CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content (Dublin City University, Ireland) is supported by the Science Foundation Ireland. During its academic-industry collaborative research it has not only driven standards in content and localization service integration, but it is also pioneering advancements in Machine Translation through the development of disruptive and cutting edge processing technologies. These technologies are revolutionising global content value chains across a number of different industries.

The CNGL research centre draws its talent and expertise from a combined 150 researchers from Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin and University of Limerick. The centre also works closely with industry partners to produce disruptive technologies that will have a positive impact both socially and economically.

KantanMT allows users to build a customised translation engine with training data that will be specific to their needs. KantanMT are continuing to offer a 14 day free trial to new members.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s