Through Sheer Power, Google Translate Gets It Right

Similar programs use 1B words, while Google plugs in 100B+
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2010 9:40 AM CST
A Google translation of an English text into Farsi (Persian).   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Score one for Google’s “don’t be evil” side as Web surfers reap the benefits of its excellent translation program—thanks to the sheer force of Google's web dominance. Machine translation is a particularly tricky computer problem that programmers now agree is most easily solved by feeding massive amounts of data into a computer. And Google, with its interconnected servers, has arguably the largest one in the world.

The company mines UN and EU translations to provide a massive pool of references, and helps speakers of less common languages get their text on the Web so it can be used as well. The result is a sort of crowd-sourced database that produces free translations on par with more traditional efforts by the likes of IBM and Microsoft. “Our infrastructure is very well-suited to this,” an exec tells the New York Times. “We can take approaches that others can’t even dream of.”

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