Carnegie Mellon University
January 06, 2011

Press Release: Computational Linguistics Olympiad Cited For Increasing Public Awareness of Linguistics

CMU's Lori Levin Among Founders of Annual Competition for High School Students

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Contact:  Byron Spice / 412-268-9068 / bspice@cs.cmu

PITTSBURGH—The North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), an annual competition that identifies high school students with linguistic talent while simultaneously acquainting them with the field of computational linguistics, will receive the Linguistic Society of America's (LSA) 2011 Linguistics, Language and the Public Award.
"Not many people know what computational linguistics is all about, despite the fact that it has become a part of our everyday lives through technologies such as search engines, voice-recognition systems and computer translation," said Carnegie Mellon University's Lori Levin, NACLO co-chair and an associate research professor in CMU's Language Technologies Institute. "Most students don't even consider it as a major until they are midway through college. So when we began NACLO in 2006, we saw the competition as a compelling way to acquaint talented students with linguistics while they are still in high school."
The annual award, which recognizes people or organizations that have had a demonstrable impact on the public awareness of linguistics, will be presented Saturday at the LSA's annual conference at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel.
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.
The first round of the 2011 NACLO will be Feb. 2 at Carnegie Mellon and numerous sites across the country. For information, visit the NACLO website, Registration deadline is Jan. 20, with late registration available as space permits through Feb. 1.
In addition to Levin, the founders of NACLO include program chair and head coach Dragomir Radev of the University of Michigan; former co-chair Tom Payne of the University of Oregon; sponsorship chair James Pustejovsky of Brandeis University; and Tanya Korelsky of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Other key volunteers include coaches Adam Hesterberg, a Princeton University undergraduate; Patrick Littell, a Ph.D. student at the University of British Columbia; and David Mortensen of the University of Pittsburgh. Amy Troyani of Pittsburgh Allderdice High School serves as school liaison and Mary Jo Bensasi of Carnegie Mellon is administrator.
NACLO is sponsored by the NSF, the North American chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, CMU's Language Technologies Institute, CMU's Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Community Outreach, the University of Michigan and Brandeis University, among others.
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