First and foremost: it is NOT, repeat NOT, automatic translation. Computer Aided Translation (CAT) in fact has very little to do with Google Translate and its ilk.
A ‘computer-aided translation’ is one which has been undertaken by a human translator in conjunction with different bits of software designed to streamline and facilitate the process. It is thus totally distinct from automatic translation, or ‘machine translation‘ (MT) as it is known in the industry, which refers to the products of computer programs, generally internet-based, which ‘translate’ text automatically.
Most language service providers (LSP) use CAT techniques and tools. This term covers translation memories (TM), grammar and spell-checkers, terminology databases and project-management software. All of these together constitute the range of digital resources available to translators today.
But out of this assembly of tools – and the processes they enable or optimise-the most important and widely-used is translation memory.