Angela Fan (Meta AI Research) “No Language Left Behind: Scaling Human-Centered Machine Translation” @ Hackerman Hall B17
Nov 18 @ 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm


Driven by the goal of eradicating language barriers on a global scale, machine translation has solidified itself as a key focus of artificial intelligence research today. However, such efforts have coalesced around a small subset of languages, leaving behind the vast majority of mostly low-resource languages. What does it take to break the 200 language barrier while ensuring safe, high-quality results, all while keeping ethical considerations in mind? In this talk, I introduce No Language Left Behind, an initiative to break language barriers for low-resource languages. In No Language Left Behind, we took on the low-resource language translation challenge by first contextualizing the need for translation support through exploratory interviews with native speakers. Then, we created datasets and models aimed at narrowing the performance gap between low and high-resource languages. We proposed multiple architectural and training improvements to counteract overfitting while training on thousands of tasks. Critically, we evaluated the performance of over 40,000 different translation directions using a human-translated benchmark, Flores-200, and combined human evaluation with a novel toxicity benchmark covering all languages in Flores-200 to assess translation safety. Our model achieves an improvement of 44% BLEU relative to the previous state-of-the-art, laying important groundwork towards realizing a universal translation system in an open-source manner.


Angela is a research scientist at Meta AI Research in New York, focusing on supporting efforts in speech and language research. Recent projects include No Language Left Behind ( and Universal Speech Translation for Unwritten Languages ( Before translation, Angela previously focused on research in on-device models for NLP and computer vision and text generation.

Student Seminar – Samik Sadhu (JHU) “Importance of Different Temporal Modulations of Speech: A Tale of Two Perspectives” @ Hackerman Hall B17
Apr 3 @ 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm


How important are different temporal speech modulations for speech recognition? We answer this question from two complementary perspectives. Firstly, we quantify the amount of phonetic information in the modulation spectrum of speech by computing the mutual information between temporal modulations with frame-wise phoneme labels. Looking from another perspective, we ask – which speech modulations an Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) system prefers for its operation. Data-driven weights are learned over the modulation spectrum and optimized for an end-to-end ASR task. Both methods unanimously agree that speech information is mostly contained in slow modulation. Maximum mutual information occurs around 3-6 Hz which also happens to be the range of modulations most preferred by the ASR. In addition, we show that the incorporation of this knowledge into ASRs significantly reduces their dependency on the amount of training data.


Center for Language and Speech Processing