Conference on Mechanical Translation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

17-20 June 1952


Note. Most papers of this conference were not published. Two that were (by S.C.Dodd and by R.H.Richens and A.D.Booth) appeared in corrected forms in the collection edited by W.N.Locke and A.D.Booth Machine translation of languages (Cambridge, Mass.: Technology Press of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1955). The article by Bar-Hillel on idioms in the Locke-Booth collection was completely new; it was not a reprint of the paper given at the conference.


Pre-conference material circulated to attendees

Warren Weaver: Translation [Rockefeller Foundation, July 1949]

W.F.Loomis: Present interest in mechanical translation. [Rockefeller Foundation, March 1951]

Yehoshua Bar-Hillel: Conference on mechanical translation [invitations; program (details changed later); attendees] [PDF, 68KB]

Yehoshua Bar-Hillel: The present state of research on mechanical translation [as published in American Documentation, 1951 (actually 1953)] [PDF, 151KB]

June 17, evening: session I (public session) - chair Jerome B. Wiesner

Opening speech by the convener of the conference [no text traced]

Yehoshua Bar-Hillel: Mechanical translation: needs and possibilities [PDF, 77KB]

Leon Dostert: Human translation versus machine translation [no text traced]

Olaf Helmer: The structure of the problem of mechanical translation. (One page abstract) [PDF, 42KB]

Andrew D. Booth: How intelligent can a machine translator be? [no text traced]

James W. Perry: Machine techniques in index searching and translation [extended version given on 20 June (see below)]

June 18, morning: session II - chair: Leon Dostert

Erwin Reifler: Mechanical translation with a pre-editor, and writing for MT [PDF, 110KB]

Yehoshua Bar-Hillel: Mechanical translation and a post-editor; later entitled: The treatment of "idioms" by a translating machine. [PDF, 103KB]

Stuart C. Dodd: Model English for mechanical translation. [PDF, 84KB]

 June 18, afternoon: session III - chair: A.C.Reynolds

Victor A. Oswald: Word-by-word translation  [PDF, 73KB]

Yehoshua Bar-Hillel: Operational grammar  [PDF, 107KB]

William N. Locke: Mechanical translation of printed and spoken material [no text circulated; summarised in Reynold’s report]

June 19, morning: session IV - chair: A.Don Booth

Victor A. Oswald: Microsemantics.  [PDF, 95KB]

William E. Bull: Problems of vocabulary frequency and distribution.  [PDF, 82KB]

Erwin Reifler: General mechanical translation and universal grammar.  [PDF, 69KB]

 June 19, afternoon: visit to Whirlwind computer, Computation Laboratory, M.I.T.

 June 20, morning: session V - chair: William E. Bull

Harry D. Huskey: Basic machine operations in mechanical translation [no text circulated; summarised in Reynold’s report]

Jay W. Forrester: Problems of storage and cost [no text circulated; briefly summarized in Reynold’s report]

A. Donald Booth and Richard H. Richens: Some methods of mechanized translation. [PDF, 178KB]

William E. Bull: Teaching foreign languages or MT and language teaching ? [no text traced; summarized in Reifler’s report]

James W. Perry: Machine techniques for index searching and for machine translation. [PDF, 68KB]

 June 20, afternoon: session VI

Organization of future research [no text available]

Post-conference materials

Transcript of discussions [corrected and edited version to be added at a future date]

                Copy of original transcript

Contemporary reports of the conference published in Mechanical Translation:

Reifler, Erwin: The first conference on mechanical translation

Reynolds, Craig: The conference on mechanical translation held at M.I.T., June 17-20, 1952.


List of Participants 

Yehoshua Bar-Hillel (1915-1975), Research Associate, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

Andrew Donald Booth (1918-2009 ), Director, Electronic Computer Section, Birkbeck College

Dudley A. Buck (1927-1959), Research Assistant, Electrical Engineering Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. [later: Research Laboratory of Electronics]

William Emerson Bull (1909-1972), Department of Spanish, University of California, Los Angeles

Stuart Carter Dodd (1900-1975), Washington Public Opinion Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle

Leon Emile Dostert (1904-1971), Institute of Languages and Linguistics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Jay Wright Forrester (1918- ), Director, Digital Computing Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

Duncan Harkin, Department of Defense, Washington, DC

Olaf Helmer (1910-2011), Director of Research, Math Division, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif.

Harry Douglas Huskey (1916- ), Assistant Director, National Bureau of Standards, Institute for Numerical Analysis, University of California, Calif.

William Nash Locke (1909-1980), Department of modern Languages, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

Victor Amandus Oswald (1909-2003), Department of Germanic Languages, University of California, Los Angeles

James Whitney Perry (1907-1971), Research Associate, Center of International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

Erwin Reifler (1903-1965), Far Eastern and Russian Institute, University of Washington, Seattle

A Craig Reynolds, Endicott Laboratories, IBM

Vernon Tate (1929-1989), Director of Libraries, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

Jerome B. Wiesner (1915-1994), Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

Victor H. Yngve (1920-2012), University of Chicago, Chicago