IIT Patna Helps Break Language Barriers, Says Director

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The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at IIT Patna finds technological solutions to language issues in e-commerce, justice and social media.

IIT Patna has developed a machine translation system to translate court documents from English to Indian and from Indian to English.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Institute of Technology, Patna has joined a Bihar government project to improve science and technology education in the state, which uses a hub-and-spoke model to work together. In an email interview with Careers360, TN Singh, Director of IIT Patna, spoke about the institution’s research projects on language processing and translations, new industry-relevant courses, how it overcomes funding challenges by launching P3 courses and more. . Excerpts edited below.

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Q. Recently, IIT Patna, along with a few polytechnic colleges in the state, have started implementing a hub and spoke model in collaboration with the Bihar government. How is it progressing?

A. IIT Patna is a knowledge partner in this initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of Bihar. This program is part of the Seven Nishchay Part II program of the Government of Bihar. In the project, 11 hubs and 33 spokes have been identified by the Bihar government. IIT Patna will develop labs in the hubs and spokes as per the approved Detailed Project Report (DPR) including teacher training, coordination with industry partners and student training in respective chosen field for their college.

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Q. IIT Patna recently collaborated with Flipkart to provide translation and transliteration support to the e-commerce giant. What other such collaborations are underway and how do students benefit from them?

A. The local language is essential for e-commerce businesses to thrive in small towns and rural areas. In August 2020, Flipkart partnered with the Artificial Intelligence-Natural Language Processing-Machine Learning (AI-NLP-ML) research group in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering to automate the translation and transliteration process of over 5.4 million words of English. to Indian languages ​​using state-of-the-art AI-NLP-ML techniques. Joint research has helped Flipkart offer its app interface in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Assamese, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

The technology developed as part of this research is extremely useful for a multilingual country like India which speaks 22 official languages, and a large part of the population (around 80%) cannot communicate in English. This collaboration has provided IIT Patna faculty, students (PhD, MTech and BTech) and project staff with a platform to work on a challenging problem that has practical use cases in our multilingual society. Besides research expenses, this collaboration provided long-term internship opportunities for PhD students, access to real user-generated data (the fuel of today’s technology), and Flipkart’s internal platform.

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IIT Patna has developed a machine translation system to translate court documents from English to Indian and from Indian to English. This is important because a large number of documents are generated daily in the different levels of courts in various vernacular languages. They need to be translated so that judges, lawyers, law firms and ordinary citizens can quickly access this information in the language with which they are most comfortable. Manual translation by professional translators of such voluminous data is both time-consuming and costly, causing significant delays in the overall justice delivery process. Advanced artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning techniques can be a great rescue here.

Another interesting project that IIT Patna has undertaken is to build a machine translation system using AI-NLP-ML techniques to translate educational content from English to Indian languages.

IIT Patna has partnered with Wipro to develop technologies and know-how in the areas of AI-NLP-ML to detect hate speech on social media, prevent its rapid dissemination and convert objectionable content into a standard language; to detect misinformation and fake news from social media content; and health question-and-answer system. These ongoing projects have provided a platform for our faculty members and students to work on industry-related issues in collaboration with international universities such as the University of Texas at Austin, USA of America, and the Institute of Artificial Intelligence at the University of South Carolina, USA.

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As part of IMPRINT 2, another project in collaboration with Wipro concerns the construction of a multilingual chatbot for the judicial, health and rail sectors. The project aims to: (i) develop a chatbot called Sevak, which can understand written and spoken Indian languages ​​(Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu) as well as English; (ii) it aims to design Sevak in such a way that it supports the mixing of languages, i.e. Hindi and English (Hinglish), Bengali and English (benglish); (iii) the product will be an open-source, pluggable chatbot engine; (iv) The Sevak service will be provided via Facebook Messenger, Android application; (v) Will serve in railways, primary health care and justice.

Thanks to the generous grant from Accenture, we are currently working on the development of a persuasive, personalized and knowledge-based conversational system (or chatbot) using the latest natural language processing and machine learning techniques. With the tremendous advancements in technologies and the phenomenal increase in the widespread adoption of smart devices and AI-powered virtual assistants, more and more organizations are very rapidly turning to a conversation-driven interface to engage their customers better.

Another interesting project in the works is called AgroLiteracy which aims to create a chatbot and/or a question-answer system in the field of agriculture. This project is planned with Samsung Research and Bihar Department of Agriculture, under the technology

innovation center on video, speech and text analysis, IIT Patna. AgroLiteracy is a multilingual chatbot, primarily aimed at helping Indian farmers with a voicebot that can understand English and Indian languages.

Q. Last year, IIT-P introduced three new BTech courses in Artificial Intelligence, Engineering Physics, and Bachelor’s courses in Mathematics and Computer Science. What new courses and centers are you planning?

A. IIT Patna is committed to providing industry-relevant training and skills without compromising academic rigor. Currently, IIT Patna is working on developing MTech executive programs in AI and mechatronics for industry professionals; HR executive graduate degrees [human resource management]; and a large number of certificate programs offering industry-ready skills.

In addition, IIT Patna is also working on developing online degree programs in line with the National Education Policy 2020 in the fields of IT, AI, and Management. All new online or hybrid programs above will be offered as PPP [public-private partnership] fashion to ensure financial viability and sustainability.

Q. Recently, AICTE extended the moratorium on the creation of new engineering schools. What can be done to improve the current scenario?

A. IIT Patna partners with the state government to offer support in improving engineering education by offering Faculty Development Programs (FDP), assisting in the establishment of centers of excellence and by conducting workshops and seminars by IIT P faculty members to train state government teachers and their laboratory technicians. We would like to work closely with AICTE to help them improve the situation of engineering education in the country.

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Q. The recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on IITs highlighted difficulties in allocating funds and low student enrollment for second-generation IITs, resulting in performance gaps. What challenges do you face?

A. IIT-P is adopting the public-private partnership model to launch new industry-ready online or hybrid courses to overcome funding challenges. It is expected that this model will also contribute to strengthening the impact of IIT-P on engineering education on a larger scale.

Q. In a response from Rajya Sabha, the Ministry of Education highlighted the shortage of teachers in IITs with 100 teaching vacancies in IIT-Patna. What is happening on this front?

A. IIT Patna organizes the recruitment process on a priority basis. A round has recently ended and another round of special training is underway. Further rounds of recruitment are planned for this year. The recruitment of qualified candidates for faculty positions is a priority for
IIT Patna.

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IIT-P is adopting the public-private partnership model to launch new industry-ready online or hybrid courses to overcome funding challenges. It is expected that this model will also help to strengthen the impact of IIT-P on engineering education on a larger scale.

IIT Patna is also working on the development of online degree programs in line with the National Education Policy 2020 in the fields of IT, AI and Management. All new online or hybrid programs above will be offered in PPP mode.


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