Six clever problem solvers from Wellington College this week tested their minds against the world’s toughest problems in language and logic during the qualifying round of the CNGL All-Ireland Linguistics Olympiad 2014. The contest challenges secondary school students to solve complex puzzles in unfamiliar languages. It aims to inspire students to pursue careers combining computing, linguistics and languages.

The students from Wellington College were among a record 2,700 students from 130 schools who competed in qualifying rounds of the competition at their schools this week. The top 100 decoders will go to participate in the national finals at Trinity College Dublin in March. The winners there will win the opportunity to represent Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Beijing, China in July 2014.

The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) challenges students to engage in ‘code-breaking’ to unlock information in unfamiliar languages – be it decoding Swedish Metro maps, deciphering ancient Oriental scripts, or interpreting Aboriginal poetry. No prior knowledge of a second language is required; even the hardest problems require only reasoning skills, logic and patience.

“I have found it interesting having to work on the phonetics of words rather than just the spellings and grammar.  It has been a revelation in terms of other languages and their complexities” notes Nathan Wafflart, a Year 13 pupil at Wellington College.

AILO is run by the Science Foundation Ireland-funded CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content, which is hosted by Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University. CNGL is a 58 million euro academia-industry research centre that adapts and personalises digital content to the needs of global users. Students who reach the national final of this year’s contest will be tutored by experts from CNGL.

A recent study revealed that 94 per cent of employers consider the capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems to be vital in the 21st century global workforce. AILO aims to inspire the next generation of multilingual technology graduates, who possess a powerful combination of computing, language and skills.

For AILO competition updates, and to try out the puzzles for yourself, visit www.cngl.ie/ailo

[Source: AILO Press Release]