Utah Valley, Machine translation (MT), Translation Sciences Institute (TSI), Automated Language Processing Systems (ALPS), Alpnet


Nestled in the Wasatch range of the Rocky Mountains in northern Utah lies scenic Utah Valley. Home to Brigham Young University (BYU) and a host of foreign-speaking residents, the setting also served as a hotbed throughout the 1980's for the machine translation (MT) industry. To fully appreciate this narrative the chronologically prior story of BYU's Translation Sciences Institute (TSI)—which has not yet been written— would need to be consulted. When the Church1 withdrew funding for the project, the TSI team disbanded. Some former participants remained at BYU, others left the university to work for industrial corporations, and the majority remained to create three commercial MT spin-offs. Though separate papers could undoubtedly (and should) be written about the other two, this chapter will only focus on the largest and longest-lived of the MT companies headquartered in Utah Valley: Automated Language Processing Systems (ALPS), later Alpnet. Deep pockets provided financial backing to continue the TSI project off-campus; funds came particularly from a Salt Lake City entrepreneur who had a successful car dealership and an interest in high-tech ventures. This chapter sketches the significant contributions ALPS made to the MT world, and how, even though it no longer exists, it served as a valuable incubator for researchers in subsequent language-based enterprises. This sketch is first-hand, as experienced by one of the earliest and longest-term employees.

Original Publication Citation

Deryle Lonsdale (2007, published in 2010). From ALPS to Alpnet (and beyond). [Publication solicited by W. John Hutchings for a book, but subsequently published online at the EuropeanAssociation for Machine Translation's MT archive:]

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European Association for Machine Translation







University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

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