Radev's team takes first place in international linguistics competition

Members of the First place Team Red, pictured with UMSI professor Dragomir Radev (left) and NACLO CHAIR Lori LEvin (fourth from left): Alexander Babiak, Jackie Bredenberg, Deven Lahoti, and Darryl Wu 

Under the guidance of head coach and UMSI professor Dragomir Radev, the U.S. high school students who competed in the 12th annual International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) received a number of team and individual honors. Thirty-nine teams from 28 countries participated in this year’s contest, held July 21-25 in Beijing, China. 

Two teams of four students, Team Red and Team Blue, represented the United States. Team Red took first place in the team round and also won the prize for highest combined individual scores. Darryl Wu from Team Red was awarded a gold medal and received the second highest overall individual score in the competition. 

The IOL challenged participants to solve problems on diverse languages including Benabena, Kiowa, Tangkin, Armenian and Engenni. They used the data from these languages to discover facts about languages and formal systems in the course of solving the puzzles. Teams are composed of top scorers among the more than 1,600 high school students in the U.S. and Canada who competed in two qualifying rounds earlier this year.

Of the 152 contestants in the field, 41 received medals (7 gold, 13 silver, and 21 bronze), 28 received honorable mentions, and nine were awarded best solution prizes. In addition to Wu’s gold medal, Team Red members Alexander Babiak and Deven Lahoti won silver medals and Jackie Bredenberg received an honorable mention. Catherine Wu from Team Blue won a silver medal. Her teammates Kevin Li and James Bloxham took home bronze medals and Brandon Epstein received an honorable mention.

Sample problems from the competition are available to view on the IOL website.

In addition to coaching the two U.S. teams, Radev is the program co-chair of the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad. Among his many responsibilities, Radev aims to create challenging and stimulating problems that address cutting edge issues in computational linguistics, a rapidly emerging field with applications in such areas as search engine technologies, machine translation, and artificial intelligence.

Posted on July 31, 2014