Radev's Olympiad competitors achieve best year ever

Winning Team Red USA members pose with their medals: (left to right) Max Schindler, Aaron Klein, Alexander Wade, and Tom McCoy.

Under the guidance of head coach and UMSI professor Dragomir Radev, the US high school students who competed in the eleventh annual International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) once again turned in exceptional performances, and several earned a place in the competition’s Hall of Fame. 35 teams from 26 countries participated in this year’s contest, which was held July 22-26 in Manchester, England.

According to Radev, “In the seven years that we have sent US teams to the IOL, this is the first time that a US student or US team has finished first in all three major categories.”

Two teams of four students each represented the United States, Team Red and Team Blue. In the individual contests, Alex Wade of Reno, Nevada, was the absolute winner out of 137 competitors. This is the third straight year that Wade has won a medal. In 2011 he won a silver and in both 2012 and 2013, he earned the gold and a place in the IOL Hall of Fame.

Team USA Red took first place in the individual contest team rankings. The team was also promoted to the Hall of Fame, since each team member won a medal: Aaron Klein (silver), Tom McCoy (bronze), Maximilian Schindler (bronze) and Alex Wade (gold).
The US Team Red also placed first in team contest trophies.  In all, the US teams won five medals: one gold, two silver, and two bronze.

Participants in the IOL competed to solve problems on diverse languages including Yidini, Tundra Yukaghir, Piraha and Muna, as well as a problem on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They used the data from these languages to discover facts about languages and formal systems in the course of solving the puzzles. See the problems here.Team members were the top scorers of the over 1700 high school students in the U.S. and Canada who competed in two qualifying rounds earlier this year.

In addition to coaching the two U.S. teams, Radev is the program 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.