Google Summer of Code/Application 2016

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A free/open-source rule-based machine translation platform

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Primary Open Source License

GNU General Public License version 3.0 (GPL-3.0)

Technology Tags

C++, Python, Perl, XML, finite-state technology

Topic Tags

machine translation, computer-aided translation, morphological analysis, natural language processing, human language technologies

Ideas list (to be updated)


Short Description

Free/open-source rule-based machine translation platform

Long Description

Apertium is a free/open-source machine translation platform, initially aimed at related-language pairs (such as Spanish–Catalan) but which has been expanded to deal with more divergent language pairs (such as English-Catalan). The platform provides

  1. a language-independent machine translation engine
  2. tools to manage the linguistic data necessary to build a machine translation system for a given language pair and
  3. linguistic data for a growing number of language pairs.


Application instructions

We have a Wiki page with tips and an application template: [1] . Here are the main tips to help you when writing your GSOC application with Apertium.

  1. Be realistic: We're more likely to accept realistic ideas than far-out wacky ones. But if you have a wacky idea, we might still be interested if we can turn it into something achievable in 3 months.
  2. Be appropriate: Demonstrate you have a knowledge of Apertium, how it works and the problem it has that you'd like to solve.
  3. Have a plan: Three months may seem like a long time, but it isn't. Provide a weekly plan with dates and deliverables. Leave time for getting familiar with the platform — ideally before, or in the community bonding period — and for documentation. If you plan to work on a language pair, make yourself familiar with testvoc and other quality controls, and factor those in. If you know of any breaks or absences beforehand, mention them and plan around them.
  4. Get in contact ASAP!: We get lots of proposals: only a few are good. Contact your potential mentor as soon as possible: send your proposal to the mailing list, ask for feedback, and refine your application based on feedback. If you are remembered, you are more likely to be picked.
  5. Read the Ideas Page! If you find yourself asking 'do you have any Java/Python/Fortran/x86 assembler projects...' -- you didn't read the ideas page. Read the ideas page.

Proposal Tags

new language pair, improve existing language pair, improving the engine, improved source-language analysis, improved bilingual transfer, new end-user application, improve existing end-user application, easing language data development, improving the apertium website, improved format management

Contact Methods

IRC Channel


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Your details

Why does your org want to participate in Google Summer of Code?

  • Apertium likes GSoC: it is a programme that supports free/open-source (FOS) software as much as we do!
  • Apertium needs GSoC: it offers an incredible opportunity (and resources!) allowing us to spread the word about our project, to attract new developers and consolidate the contribution of existing developers through mentoring and to improve the platform in many ways: improving the engine, generating new tools and user interfaces, making Apertium available to other applications, improving the quality of the languages currently supported, adding new languages to it.
  • Apertium is committed to the advancement of less-resourced languages and GSoC gives an opportunity for computer-literate students speaking those challenged languages to generate FOS language technologies for them.

By participating we will gain: more students getting to know FOS software and the ethos that comes with it, contributing to it and, very especially students who are passionate about languages and computers.

How many potential mentors have agreed to mentor this year?


It would be nice to have every mentor sign here:

How will you keep mentors engaged with their students?

We select our mentors among very active developers, with long-term commitment to this decade-old project — they are people we know well and whom we have met face-to-face at conferences, workshops or even in daily life; some of them teach and do research at universities or work at companies using Apertium.

For this reason, it is quite unlikely for mentors to disappear, since all of the mentors are However, there is always the possibility that some problem comes up, so we also assign backup mentors to all students, in many cases more than one backup. If a mentor cannot continue for whatever reason, one of the backup co-mentors will take over, and one of the organisation administrators will take on the role of second backup mentor.

How will you help your students stay on schedule to complete their projects?

We will only accept applications that contain a well-defined weekly schedule, with clear milestones and deliverables and, if possible, with a section on risk management (risks, their probability, their severity, and mitigating actions). Applications should also plan for holidays and try and plan for other absences.

Students will be encouraged to let us know if they need to reschedule or take a break, should the need arise. Students may also need consultation when they are stuck, or personal matters interfere with their work: we will try our best to reach out for them, be open and friendly, and provide as much support as we can to help them out. We've been students too!

Detailed scheduling 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, to proceed according to the rules of GSoC.

How will you get your students involved in your community during GSoC?

First, we encourage all of our students visit our IRC channel (#apertium @ freenode) as often as possible, even before the start of the program, since that would help them find a suitable mentor and a useful project that they can work on. We advice them strongly to read our Wiki pages and manuals, use our system, try to break it and fix it, and finally tell us about it. As a result, students get familiar with Apertium before the coding period starts, which increases their chances of ending up with a successful project. In addition, we define coding challenges for each of the proposed projects, which serve both as an entry task, and as means for getting our students familiar with Apertium and involved in our community in the early stages of the program. Finally, during the coding stage, we are available to talk to our students on a daily basis and give them suggestions and advice when they get stuck.

How will you keep students involved with your community after GSoC?

We have found that the following has helped us have quite a high retention rate in previous years:

  1. Helping students out publishing papers for conferences, or assisting with academic work.
  2. Organising workshops (such as FreeRBMT) or courses (such as where students can present their work to the wider community.
  3. Encouraging students to get involved in mentoring themselves, through the Google Code-In programme.
  4. Passing on information about MSc and PhD positions, and academic and other grants.

Has your org been accepted as a mentoring org in Google Summer of Code before?


Which years did your org participate in GSoC?

  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009

What is your success/fail rate per year?

  • 2009: 8 pass, 1 fail
  • 2010: 8 pass, 1 fail
  • 2011: 9 pass, 2 fail
  • 2012: 10 pass, 1 fail
  • 2013: 10 pass, 1 fail
  • 2014: 15 pass, 1 fail

If your org has applied for GSoC before but not been accepted, select the years:

2015 2008