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Carbonell Pioneered Use of Computers for Translation


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Jaime Carbonell, University Professor and Allen Newell Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jaime Carbonell, Allen Newell Professor of Computer Science and University Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, died Friday following an extended illness.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Jaime Carbonell foresaw a world where people could freely communicate with each other, no matter what language they spoke. He knew that making this dream a reality would require automation, so he spent his career building machines that could understand human language.

He knew full well that earlier attempts at machine translation had largely come to naught. Nevertheless, as a young computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in 1985, Carbonell persuaded his superiors to let him start a Center for Machine Translation. For the next 35 years, he and his colleagues would create pioneering translation systems and expand the horizons of artificial intelligence.

Carbonell, 66, died Friday following an extended illness. He was the Allen Newell Professor of Computer Science and had earned the distinction of University Professor, the highest academic accolade CMU faculty can attain.

Machine translation, which was high-risk research when Carbonell first championed it, is big business today, dominated by tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon. And the research center he launched would expand in 1996 to become the Language Technologies Institute (LTI), one of seven academic units in CMU's top-ranked School of Computer Science.

 

From Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
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