A Cross-Lingual Similarity Measure for Detecting Biomedical Term Translations

Danushka Bollegala, Georgios Kontonatsios, Sophia Ananiadou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


Bilingual dictionaries for technical terms such as biomedical terms are an important resource for machine translation systems as well as for humans who would like to understand a concept described in a foreign language. Often a biomedical term is first proposed in English and later it is manually translated to other languages. Despite the fact that there are large monolingual lexicons of biomedical terms, only a fraction of those term lexicons are translated to other languages. Manually compiling large-scale bilingual dictionaries for technical domains is a challenging task because it is difficult to find a sufficiently large number of bilingual experts. We propose a cross-lingual similarity measure for detecting most similar translation candidates for a biomedical term specified in one language (source) from another language (target). Specifically, a biomedical term in a language is represented using two types of features: (a) intrinsic features that consist of character n-grams extracted from the term under consideration, and (b) extrinsic features that consist of unigrams and bigrams extracted from the contextual windows surrounding the term under consideration. We propose a cross-lingual similarity measure using each of those feature types. First, to reduce the dimensionality of the feature space in each language, we propose prototype vector projection (PVP)—a non-negative lower-dimensional vector projection method. Second, we propose a method to learn a mapping between the feature spaces in the source and target language using partial least squares regression (PLSR). The proposed method requires only a small number of training instances to learn a cross-lingual similarity measure. The proposed PVP method outperforms popular dimensionality reduction methods such as the singular value decomposition (SVD) and non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) in a nearest neighbor prediction task. Moreover, our experimental results covering several language pairs such as English–French, English–Spanish, English–Greek, and English–Japanese show that the proposed method outperforms several other feature projection methods in biomedical term translation prediction tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Early online date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2015


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