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North American Computational Linguistics
What is Computational Linguistics?
"Hey Siri, what is the weather in Calgary?" In our daily lives,
we now take it for granted that we can talk to a machine, and
it will answer our questions. This starts as a physics problem,
analyzing a sound wave and converting this into information a
computer can work with. Next is a computational problem,
parsing the question to find out what the speaker means. After
some data retrieval, more computation picks the right words,
and turns these into the right set of sounds to send back out the
speaker. Linguists study how this sound to meaning and back
again process works in humans; Computational Linguists go
the extra step of modelling that process using logical methods
that can be programmed into software, or used for large scale
data retrieval and analysis. How does Google know how to finish
your question? Computational Linguistics plays a role.
What is NACLO?
The North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO)
is a competitive exam for High School students with an interest in
linguistic problem solving. In 2017, the School of Languages,
Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Calgary
will be a testing site. To participate, you must be under 21 years
old on the testing date, and have never been a full-time college
or university student. Additionally, you must be either a Canadian
or US citizen, OR a current high school student in either country.
Top scorers in the open round will be invited to a national team
competing in Ireland in 2017. NACLO competitors will be eligible
for the Canadian Anglophone team. See below for links to the
new Francophone competition.
NACLO Open Round Testing in Calgary
The testing date is January 26, 2017, which is a Thursday (so students
who participate will need to arrange an absence with their teachers).
The exam begins at 10:00am, and ends at 1:00pm. Students should
plan on arriving at 9:30am to allow time to register. The test location
will be BI 561 (Biological Sciences). For campus maps,
click here. To register for the exam, visit the NACLO website.
NACLO Boot Camp for Students
The Linguistics program is hosting two boot camp problem solving
sessions for local high school students here at the University:
Thursday January 12th 5:00-6:30pm in Craigie Hall D420
Wednesday January 18th 5:00-6:30om in Craigie Hall C110
(see link to campus maps above)
Led by our faculty and students, these sessions will each cover
six problems from previous contests. The sessions will both
cover the same basic concepts, but with different questions,
so students may attend one or both. Beyond practicing for the
exam, this is an excellent chance for students to meet prospective
professors and TAs, and get a taste of Linguistics more broadly.
After the training sessions, there will be an opportunity to tour
some of our Psycholinguistics Labs to see what kinds of active
research we are working on.
Space in these Boot Camp sessions is limited by the room capacity,
capped at 35 each session. To register for one of these sessions,
send email to firstname.lastname@example.org Practice problems can be
found at the NACLO site.
Francophone Competition and 2018 Plans
A parallel French-language version of the contest is running in
2017 through Olympiade Linguistique Canadienne. In 2018,
OLC-CLO will take over the English language contest as well.
Stay tuned for further details.