School of Informatics

TransModal success

Professor Mirella Lapata has received five years’ funding for her project, TransModal: Translating from Multiple Modalities into Text.

Professor Mirella Lapata

The European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant worth €1.9M will begin in September.

ERC Consolidator Grants are for researchers of any nationality with 7-12 years of experience since completion of their PhD (plus 18 months for each child), a scientific track record showing scientific talent and an excellent research proposal.


Professor Lapata’s award winning proposal is summarised on the ERC website as follows:

“Recent years have witnessed the development of a wide range of computational methods and tools that process and generate natural language text.  Many of these have become familiar to mainstream computer users such as tools that retrieve documents matching a query, perform sentiment analysis, and translate between languages. Indeed, publicly available systems like Google Translate can instantly translate between any pair of over fifty human languages allowing users to access web content that wouldn't have otherwise been available.

“The accessibility of the web could be further enhanced with applications that not only translate between different languages (eg. from English to French) but also within the same language, between different modalities, or different data formats.  For example, there are currently no standard tools for simplifying language, eg. for low-literacy readers or second language learners. The web is rife with non-linguistic data (eg. databases, graphs, images, mathematical formulas, source code) that cannot be indexed or searched since most retrieval tools operate over textual data.

“Beyond addressing a fundamental aspect of the translation problem, the proposed framework will lead to the development of novel internet-based applications that automatically simplify text, produce documentation for source code, index images with meaningful descriptions, and summarize database content in natural language.”

Useful links

TransModal on the ERC website

Professor Lapata’s Edinburgh Research Explorer web page