Students participate in Invitational Linguistics Olympiad


Provided by Dr. Shaun Jahshan

Qualifiers participate in the NACLO invitational round, held on March 9.

by Rose Guan, Winged Post Copy Editor

Nine upper school students participated in the invitational round of the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) in Main yesterday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The students, Kai-Siang Ang (12), Andrew Rule (12), David Zhu (12), Swapnil Garg (11), Joanna Lin (11), Alexandra Michael (11), Rajiv Movva (11), Rose Guan (10) and Grace Huang (9), represented more than five percent of the 156 U.S. students and 30 percent of the 26 Californian students who qualified. Upper school ethics and Mandarin teacher Dr. Shaun Jahshan proctored the exam.

Participants who scored above a certain threshold on the open round of the NACLO on Jan. 26, which was open to all high school students in North America, could participate in the invitational round yesterday. Language & Linguistics Club held practice sessions for both olympiads at club meetings.

“I thought the invitational round was pretty hard compared to the open round,” Swapnil said. “There’re more problems, and the open round was pretty easy, but this round, all the problems were hard.”

NACLO problems can include translating sentences or conjugating words from other languages, interpreting different writing systems or number systems from English and applying logic to English-language problems. No knowledge of the languages involved is necessary to solve the problems.

The next step in this progression of competitions is the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL), at which high-scoring invitational round participants will represent their home countries, in Dublin from July 31 to Aug. 4. Past upper school students who participated in the IOL include Erik Andersen (’13) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and Anand Natarajan (’09) in 2008 and 2009, both of whom were part of teams representing the U.S.

Both linguistics olympiads have been held annually, the IOL since 2003 and the NACLO since 2007.