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Google Summer of Code/Application 2010

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Application

1. Describe your organization.
  • The Apertium project develops a free/open-source platform for machine translation and language technology. We try and focus our efforts on lesser-resourced and marginalised languages, but also work with larger languages.
  • The platform, including data for a large number of language pairs, a translation engine and auxiliary tools is being developed around the world, largely in universities and companies (e.g. Prompsit Language Engineering), but also independent free-software developers play a huge role.
  • There are currently 23 published language pairs within the project (including a number of "firsts" — for example Spanish—Occitan, Breton—French, and Basque—Spanish among others), and several more in development.
2. Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2010? What do you hope to gain by participating?
  • We are very interested in seeing Apertium improve as both a research and development platform, and also as a platform for spreading free/open-source software in the translation world. As a whole, and as we did in GSoC 2009, we will benefit from increased participation from outside the core group of developers: we will get new or improved resources which will help to improve translation quality for users and developers alike.
  • We have found that although it is possible to attract developers interested working on language pairs, it is more difficult to find developers who are interested in work on the engine, so we would hope to find students interested in "diving a bit deeper".
3. Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.
  • Apertium was in GSoC 2009. We finally got 9 slots and are very happy with the results of our participation. Our main successes and challenges are described below:
  • Successes
    • Getting useful results: 8/9 of our GSOC projects last year were successful.
    • Getting maintainable results: 5/9 of our GSOC projects from last year have had developers from outside the original project.
    • Finding new developers: 3/9 of our GSOC students are still (a year later) regular committers, and all have started to work outside their original projects.
  • Challenges
    • Selecting applicants: Our selection process left room for improvement, with some mentors being more involved than others. This year we aim to get over this.
    • Getting the final furlong: Many of our GSOC projects were successful, in that the code worked, but they needed some finishing touches to be release-worthy. Encouraging students to do this proved in some cases difficult.
    • Persuading students to publicise their results, we got around half of our students to present their work to the wider community, but some either didn't plan to have the time or we weren't persuasive enough.
4. If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?
  • n/a
5. What license(s) does your project use?
  • GNU GPL 2.0/3.0
6. What is the URL for your ideas page?
7. What is the main development mailing list for your organization?
  • apertium-stuff@lists.sourceforge.net
8. What is the main IRC channel for your organization?
  • #apertium on irc.freenode.net
9. Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now.
  • We expect students to contact us using IRC or e-mail; we will make sure we get the following information from all applicants:
  • Name, e-mail address, and other information that may be useful for contact
  • Why is it you are interested in machine translation?
  • Why is it that you are interested in the Apertium project?
  • Which of the published tasks are you interested in? What do you plan to do?
  • Applicants should also include a two- to eight-page proposal, including a title, reasons why Google and Apertium should sponsor it, a description of how and who it will benefit, and a detailed work plan including, if possible, a schedule with milestones and deliverables. Include time needed to think, to program, to document and to disseminate.
  • List your skills and give evidence of your qualifications. Tell us what is current field of study, major, etc.
  • Convince us that you can do the work. In particular we would like to know whether you have programmed before in open-source projects.
  • Please list any non-Summer-of-Code plans you have for the Summer, especially employment and class-taking. Be specific about schedules and time commitments. we would like to be sure you have at least 30 free hours a week to develop for our project.
10. Who will be your backup organization administrator?
  • Gema Ramírez Sánchez
11. What criteria did you use to select these individuals as mentors? Please be as specific as possible.
  • Mikel L. Forcada is a professor of Computer Science and has led all of the research that has been done at the Universitat d'Alacant in the field of machine translation. He is responsible for much of the current design of Apertium.
  • Jacob Nordfalk is an associate professor of Computer Science and author of several books on programming in Java in Danish. He is the primary developer on the English--Esperanto pair and has also done a lot of work on apertium-dixtools. He was mentor for the successful Swedish--Danish project in last year's GSOC.
  • Sergio Ortiz Rojas is the senior programmer at Prompsit Language Engineering and is responsible for most of the engine code in Apertium; he is, therefore, the developer of reference when it comes to develop new code for the platform. He was mentor for last year's successful lttoolbox-java project.
  • Juan Antonio Pérez Ortiz is a lecturer at the Universitat d'Alacant, he was a mentor for the Apertium project last year and mentored the successful scalable web service project.
  • Tommi Pirinen is a postgraduate student at the University of Helsinki, he is the main developer of the Helsinki Finite State Toolkit (HFST), a drop-in replacement for the popular Xerox finite-state tools. He has been selected as he has in-depth knowledge of HFST for giving guidance on improving its integration with Apertium.
  • Gema Ramírez Sánchez is manager of Prompsit Language Engineering, a company providing services based on Apertium. She has worked on the project for many years, on pairs including Spanish--Catalan, French--Spanish, Spanish--Portuguese and French--Catalan. She is also our backup organisation administrator.
  • Jimmy O'Regan is based in Ireland, he is the instigator and developer of the English--Polish language pair, and also works on, well, almost everything. He was a mentor last year for the successful apertium-service project.
  • Felipe Sánchez Martínez is an lecturer in Computer Science at the Universitat d'Alacant. He is responsible for coding the part-of-speech tagger of Apertium as well as the maintainer of packages apertium-tagger-training-tools and apertium-transfer-tools. He was mentor of the trigram tagger project last year, which was successful.
  • Kevin Scannell is head of Computer Science at Saint Louis University. He is known in the free software community for his work on Irish, and has been working on Irish--Scottish Gaelic in Apertium. He was a mentor last year, although his student was unsuccessful, we are happy to have him back this year.
  • Trond Trosterud is a lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Tromsø. He has worked on language technology for many years and last year was mentor on the successful Norwegian Nynorsk--Norwegian Bokmål project.
  • Francis Tyers is a graduate student of Computer Science at the Universitat d'Alacant. He is the main developer of several language packages and has worked on several more. He mentored last year's successful multi-engine MT project.
  • Lluís Villarejo Muñoz is a project manager in natural language processing (NLP) at the Office of Learning Technologies of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. He leads the project integrating Apertium into their translation systems and has been involved in many other NLP development projects. He has a unique perspective as both a large-scale user and developer of Apertium.
  • Linda Wiechetek is a graduate student of Linguistics at the University of Tromsø. She has an interest in the Sámi languages and has done the majority of the work on the North Sámi to Lule Sámi pair.
12. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?
  • Students will be encouraged to let us know how they want to break up their time, and to try and plan for holidays and absences. This will avoid both mentors and students wasting time. If a mentor reports the unscheduled disappearance of a student (72-hour silence), they will be contacted by the administrators. If silence persists, their task will be frozen and we will report to Google.
13. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?
  • It is quite unlikely, since all of the mentors are very active developers, with long-term commitment to the project — they are people we have met face-to-face at conferences, workshops or even in daily life. If a mentor fails to respond adequately to a student, they will have been instructed to contact the administrators. The administrators will examine the situation; if disappearance (48 hour silence) is confirmed, they will be assigned a different mentor and Google will be informed.
14. What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?
  • Developers who have been chosen as mentors will be available for as long as possible at the #apertium IRC channel — or another agreed on messaging system — so that the student may receive guidance with any problem they may have during development and before taking decisions on which task to select.
  • As we did in 2009, we will try to get them involved as early as possible in the project, by granting them developer status, so they can modify code and data as any other developer would.
  • Depending on the number of projects chosen for development, we will organise a workshop in Alacant such as the one we organized last year (FreeRBMT'09) so that the students may present their work in an academic setting to the wider group of developers and to the community in general.
15. What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?
  • We will ensure that their work is well publicised and appreciated among the development community, this often gives a developer impetus to continue.
  • Whenever there is a relevant research or development component in their work, we will make sure they can use it as part of their undergraduate or graduate work, and offer guidance when writing papers.
  • We're all really obsessed with machine translation, and hope that when they've spent a few months developing, our students will be too!
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