Wong Fai, professor in the Natural Language Processing & Portuguese-Chinese Machine Translation Laboratory (NLP2CT) at the University of Macau (UM) and his team presented several papers at the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2023) and attracted considerable attention. UM’s advancements in related fields will promote technological cooperation between Macao and Portuguese-speaking countries and help Macao play its role as a platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

The ACL 2023 conference received 4,559 submissions from around the world, of which 945 were accepted, accounting for 20.7 per cent of the total submissions. Five papers contributed by UM were accepted as main conference papers and two were accepted as findings papers. These papers covered a diverse array of subjects, including machine translation (MT), grammar error correction, and natural language generation.

During the conference, PhD students Liu Shudong and Zhan Runzhe presented two papers on machine translation training and evaluation. The first paper introduces a training and extraction method that can effectively transfer knowledge from a high-resource MT model to a child model, thus enabling the translation of low-resource language pairs. Compared to the previous transfer learning approaches that only focus on initialising model parameters, the new approach facilitates knowledge transfer in the training and inference stages. The second paper focuses on the automatic evaluation of MT and proposes a self-supervised approach to dynamically adapt the model to deal with out-of-distribution issues in cross-domain evaluation, thereby enhancing prediction performance. Both methodologies have been submitted for a patent application.

Natural language processing (NLP) research plays a crucial role in modern artificial intelligence (AI), driving the development of AI products such as the revolutionary ChatGPT. Over the past five years, UM has presented over 20 papers at the ACL conference, demonstrating the university’s leading expertise in NLP. Under the leadership of Prof Wong, the research team has been dedicated to NLP research for two decades and published a number of research results, demonstrating its world-leading research capacity. The team’s participation in the conference was supported by the Science and Technology Development Fund of the Macao SAR and UM.

The ACL conference is widely regarded as the top academic conference in the field of NLP. According to Google Scholar’s metrics, its conference proceedings are ranked first in the H5 Index of NLP publications. It is also listed as a Class A conference in the List of Academic Conferences and Periodicals Recommended by the China Computer Federation. Over the years, the conference has received sponsorship from major technology giants such as Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Apple, providing a platform for researchers from both academia and industry around the world to conduct academic exchange, and advancing the field with concerted efforts.

Source (UM): English version | Chinese version

Source (FST): English and Chinese