Prof. Dragomir Radev
participated as the U.S. team coach in the
Linguistics Olympiad, held recently in St. Petersburg, Russia. This is the
first year that teams from the U.S. competed, and they came home with
The International Linguistics Olympiad has its origins in the Olympiad of
Linguistics and Mathematics, founded in 1965 in Moscow. High-school students
compete by solving linguistics and logic problems based on natural language.
Eight finalists from the 200 students who participated in the North American
Computational Linguistics Olympiad earned the honor to compete in the
international competition; this is the first time U.S teams participated.
USA’s Team 2 won the team contest (tied with a Russian team); members of
the team were Rebecca Jacobs of Los Angeles, CA, Michael Gottlieb of Dobbs
Ferry, NY, Josh Falk of Pittsburgh, PA, and Anna Tchetchetkine of San Jose,
Individual members of USA’s Team 1 Adam Hesterberg of Seattle, WA, won
the individual contest, and Jeffrey Lim of Arlington, MA, won a Best
Solution award. The U.S. teams were sponsored by Google, the National
Science Foundation, and the North American Chapter of the Association for
Computational Linguistics (NAACL).
Prof. Radev is a natural as a coach, having won several awards himself as
a high school student in Bulgaria back in the 80’s, when there was no
international round. In addition to being coach for the international
contest, Prof. Radev was program chair for the U.S. contest.
“There are a number of connections between this contest and my own
research,” said Radev. “The closest one is to my research in machine
translation. In machine translation, one of the main problems is to learn
rules from aligned sentences in two languages and then using these rules to
translate new sentences from one of the languages to another. Additionally,
solving the linguistics problems involves a number of Artificial
Intelligence techniques such as constraint satisfaction and search.”