What problem types should I expect?
You may encounter the following problem types; however, this list is not exhaustive, and you may also get problems of other types. The problems will contain all information required for solving them, and you do not need any specialized linguistic knowledge.
Translation problems: A problem includes a set of sentences in a foreign language and their translations into English, which may be in order or out of order. Your task is to learn as much as possible from these translations and then translate other given sentences to or from English. Note that the foreign language may have "tricky" structure and grammar. For example, German sentences often end in verbs. Japanese people talk differently about their family and about someone else's family. Some languages do not use articles or any equivalent of "to be." Others treat animate and inanimate objects differently. Be prepared to figure out these unusual features.
Number problems: A problem includes foreign sentences that describe basic arithmetic facts, such as "six times four is twenty-four," and your task is to figure out how to translate different numbers and expressions. Some languages use bases other than ten; others use different words for the same number depending on the objects being counted, etc.
Writing systems: Your task is to figure out how a particular writing system works, and then use it to write out a given text, such as an ancient inscription. Some languages are written right to left or top to bottom, others do not use vowels, etc.
Calendar systems: Your task is to figure out what calendar was used by a particular civilization based on sentences that refer to it.
Formal problems: In this context, "formal" means that you have to build a logical model of a language phenomenon. For example, a transformation rule may say "to convert an active voice sentence to passive voice, make the object of the former sentence the subject of the latter one, convert the verb to passive by using an appropriate form of the verb "to be" with the past participle of the verb, and add "by" before the word that was the subject of the former sentence." If we apply this rule to "Maya ate an apple," we get "An apple was eaten by Maya."
Phonological problems: Your task is to figure out the relationship between the sounds of a language and its writing system.
Computational problems: Your task is to develop a procedure to perform a particular linguistic task in a way that can be carried out by a computer.
Other types: Deciphering kinship systems, transcribing spoken dialog, associating sentences with images, and many other types.