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4 Irish teens for Beijing decoding event

Monday, July 21 10:17:44

Four Irish secondary school students from Dublin, Antrim, Kerry and Cork will pit their language decoding skills against the world's best at this week's International Linguistics Olympiad in Beijing, China.

The students honed their problem-solving skills at a training camp in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, last week, where they were tutored by experts from CNGL, the Centre for Global Intelligent Content, which is also sponsoring their trip.

The International Linguistics Olympiad challenges students to apply logic and reasoning skills to solve complex language puzzles in unfamiliar languages. Students from 30 countries are engaging in code breaking challenges, which they are tackling individually and in teams. Examples include the requirement to decipher hieroglyphics, deduce logical patterns of Swahili, and interpret Sanskrit poetry.

Representing Ireland in Beijing are Luke Gardiner of Gonzaga College, Dublin, Matthew Nixon of Aquinas Grammar School, Co. Antrim, Jane D'Altuin of Gaelcholaiste Chiarrai, Co. Kerry, and Daniel Herlihy of Douglas Community School, Cork. The four finished ahead of 2,600 opponents in this year's All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) to book their places in the final.

AILO is run by the CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content, a Science Foundation Ireland-funded research centre led by Trinity and co-hosted in Dublin City University. Competitors require no prior knowledge of a second language because even the hardest problems require only reasoning skills, logic and patience. AILO is now the largest of the Irish scientific Olympiads.

Competitor Matthew Nixon is looking forward to seeing how far his code-breaking skills can take him against the world's best this week. "Taking part in AILO was my first experience of Linguistics and I have really enjoyed putting my language and logic skills to the test as well as learning new problem-solving techniques. It is a fantastic opportunity to travel to Beijing as part of the Ireland team to compete against the top linguists from all over the world."

Second-time International Linguistics Olympiad competitor Daniel Herlihy added: "This competition has granted me an amazing opportunity to represent my country, and has really improved my problem-solving skills. After the International Linguistics Olympiad in Manchester last year, I spent months dreaming about Beijing and competing in this year's contest. To get the chance to do this all over again is simply unbelievable."

Professor in Computer Science at Trinity, and Director of All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad organisers CNGL, Vincent Wade, said: "The four members of the Irish team for the International Linguistics Olympiad won the opportunity to represent Ireland by beating off stiff competition from more than 2,600 decoders at CNGL's All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad. CNGL is delighted have a very talented team of students to represent Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Beijing and we are confident of a strong performance on the world stage."