Reflection on Harvard MIT Math Tournament

Last week, the Westtown School Math Team attended the Harvard MIT Math Tournament. During the tournament a seminar is offered called  linguisticless linguistics.  This linguisticsless linguistics seminar talks about how people can sometimes understand a language they have never seen before with a few hints. The concept and logic behind this could be used in the computer science world.

The first activity we did was matching a list of sentences in another language with their English Translation. We were able to figure it out by the repetition of certain words. The second activity was very similar except harder.

The third activity listed all square numbers from 1 to 100 in another language. Our task was to figure out which one matches which number. So we first wrote down all the numbers that are squares between 1 and 100. We assumed that those numbers in the new language were in the order of left to right. Soon enough we were able to determine that they were not in base 10.

We listed out all the bases people use in the world in all languages. These bases include: 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20. The ending of the numbers in base 4 and 6 matched with the numbers in the other language.

This process could be easily simulated by a computer program. A computer will be able to do more work like this, converting numbers into another base system and testing if the endings matche. In fact, computer programs like these do exist in the world. This is in fact how de-coders work.

All codes follow a certain conversion between the codes and the original text. A computer will be able to run hundreds of test in a short amount of time and test if the sentence makes sense(checking key words like “the”).

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