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How does machine learning work according to this article?

  1. Dec 21, 2013 #1
    From an article published on the Atlantic ( http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine...man-who-would-teach-machines-to-think/309529/ ) :

    "The technique is called “machine learning.†The goal is to make a device that takes an English sentence as input and spits out a French sentence. One such device, of course, is the human brain—but the whole point is to avoid grappling with the brain’s complexity. So what you do instead is start with a machine so simple, it almost doesn’t work: a machine, say, that randomly spits out French words for the English words it’s given.

    Imagine a box with thousands of knobs on it. Some of these knobs control general settings: given one English word, how many French words, on average, should come out? And some control specific settings: given jump, what is the probability that shot comes next? The question is, just by tuning these knobs, can you get your machine to convert sensible English into sensible French?

    It turns out that you can. What you do is feed the machine English sentences whose French translations you already know. (Candide, for example, used 2.2 million pairs of sentences, mostly from the bilingual proceedings of Canadian parliamentary debates.) You proceed one pair at a time. After you’ve entered a pair, take the English half and feed it into your machine to see what comes out in French. If that sentence is different from what you were expecting—different from the known correct translation—your machine isn’t quite right. So jiggle the knobs and try again. After enough feeding and trying and jiggling, feeding and trying and jiggling again, you’ll get a feel for the knobs, and you’ll be able to produce the correct French equivalent of your English sentence."


    I did not understand what the writer said in the second paragraph ( Imagine a box ... sensible French. ) I also did not understand what he meant by "After you’ve entered a pair, take the English half and feed it into your machine". Does "feed" here mean "enter"? If it does, how can one enter a sentence that has already been entered?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

  4. Dec 24, 2013 #3
    Thank you very much.
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