Verbmobil represents a new generation of speech-to-speech translation systems in which
spontaneously spoken language, speaker independence and adaptability as well as the combination
of deep and shallow approaches to the analysis and transfer problems are the main features.
The project brought together researchers from the fields of signal processing, computational
linguistics and artificial intelligence. Verbmobil goes beyond the state-of-the-art in each of
these areas, but its main achievement is the seamless integration of them. The first project
phase (1993–1996) has been followed up by the second project phase (1997–2000), which
aims at applying the results to further languages and at integrating innovative telecooperation
techniques. Quite apart from the speech and language processing issues, the size and
complexity of the project represent an extreme challenge on the areas of project management
and software engineering:
[bull ] 50 researchers from 29 organizations at different sites in different countries are involved
in the software development process,
[bull ] to reuse existing software, hardware, knowledge and experience, only a few technical
restrictions could be given to the partners.
In this article we describe the Verbmobil prototype system from a software-engineering
perspective. We discuss:
[bull ] the modularized functional architecture,
[bull ] the flexible and extensible software architecture which reflects that functional architecture,
[bull ] the evolutionary process of system integration,
[bull ] the communication-based organizational structure of the project,
[bull ] the evaluation of the system operational by the end of the first project phase.