Faculty profile: Coaching international winners

Dragomir Radev

Professor Dragomir Radev was honored along with his fellow coaches of the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) at the Linguistic Society of America's annual meeting in Pittsburgh in January 2011.

They were presented with the Linguistics, Language and the Public Award, which is given for a body of work that has had a demonstrable impact on the public awareness of language and/or linguistics.

Past recipients of this award include writers Steven Pinker (1997) and Deborah Tannen (2005), and Language Log, a collaborative science blog written by a team of a dozen prominent linguists (2009). Radev is program chair and head coach of NACLO, which he helped to found in 2006.

The annual competition identifies high school students with linguistic talent while simultaneously acquainting them with the field of computational linguistics. The students are called up on to solve linguistic puzzles, applying logic while learning about the diversity and consistency of language.

More than a thousand students from across the United States and Canada competed in NACLO last year. Eight top students from the competition represented the United States last summer at the International Olympiad in Linguistics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Team members won a number of prizes at the international event, including an individual gold medal for Ben Sklaroff of Palo Alto, Calif. Radev is a professor in the School of Information, the Division of Computer Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering, and the Department of Linguistics in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts.

Radev is also coordinator of the Information Analysis and Retrieval specialization of the UMSI Master of Science in Information program.