Apache Joshua

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Welcome to Apache Joshua

Joshua is a statistical machine translation toolkit for both phrase-based (new in version 6.0) and syntax-based decoding. It can be run with pre-built language packs available for download, and can also be used to build models for new language pairs. Among the many features of Joshua are:

  • Support for both phrase-based and syntax-based decoding models
  • Translation of weighted input lattices
  • Thrax: a Hadoop-based, scalable grammar extractor
  • A sparse feature architecture supporting an arbitrary number of features

The latest release of Joshua is always linked to directly from the Home Page

New in 6.X

Joshua 6.X includes the following new features:

  • A fast phrase-based decoder with the ability to read Moses phrase tables
  • Large speed improvements compared to the previous syntax-based decoder
  • Special input handling
  • A host of bugfixes and stability improvements

Quick start

Joshua must be run with a Java JDK 1.8 minimum.

To run the decoder in any form requires setting a few basic environment variables: $JAVA_HOME, $JOSHUA, and, for certain (optional) portions of the model-training pipeline, potentially $MOSES.

export JAVA_HOME=/path/to/java  # maybe /usr/java/home
export JOSHUA=/path/to/joshua

You might also find it helpful to set these:

export LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8
export LANG=en_US.UTF-8

Then, compile Joshua by typing:

mvn clean package

Install required (Ubuntu) packages:

sudo apt-get install cmake libbz2-dev liblzma-dev libboost-all-dev ant gcc g++

You also need to download and compile KenLM and Thrax:

bash ./download-deps.sh

The basic method for invoking the decoder looks like this:

cat SOURCE | $JOSHUA/bin/joshua-decoder -m MEM -c CONFIG OPTIONS > OUTPUT

Some example usage scenarios and scripts can be found in the examples/ directory.

Development With Eclipse

If you are hoping to work on the decoder, we suggest you use Eclipse. You can get started with this by typing

mvn eclipse:eclipse

Working with “language packs”

Joshua includes a number of “language packs”, which are pre-built models that allow you to use the translation system as a black box, without worrying too much about how machine translation works. You can browse the models available for download on the Joshua website.

Building new models

Joshua includes a pipeline script that allows you to build new models, provided you have training data. This pipeline can be run (more or less) by invoking a single command, which handles data preparation, alignment, phrase-table or grammar construction, and tuning of the model parameters. See the documentation for a walkthrough and more information about the many available options.


Joshua is licensed and released under the permissive Apache License v2.0, a copy of which ships with the Joshua source code.