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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist


If you ever want to feel like a slacker, just check out what Anne Li is up to.

The 16-year-old Little Rock Central High student will spend next week at the giant Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., rubbing shoulders with thousands of computer developers from all over the world. She is among 350 students who are attending after winning a scholarship from Apple.

We'll step aside and let her describe her winning application.

"I applied for the scholarship with an Xcode playground that I built over spring break. It's sort of a game that teaches you to use graph traversal algorithms with mazes. Graph traversal algorithms can be used to find the optimal path between two points in a graph. They're often used for navigation, like GPS, so I thought it would be a fun way to introduce users to graph traversal algorithms."

Just something she threw together on spring break. No biggie.

The scholarship is the latest honor for Li, who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT last year. In 2017, she won the Congressional App Challenge with an app designed to remind parents to take their young children out of the car.

After the Apple conference, she flies to Northwest Arkansas for a tech internship at Lowell-based trucking firm J.B. Hunt, the result of her team winning a high school programming competition at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in March.

"We were the first all-female team in the history of the competition to win."

The summer after her freshman year, at a Stanford University coding camp, Li and two other girls formed Allgirlithm, which works to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics more accessible to women.

"There's a huge gender gap in tech, and it starts early because younger girls aren't encouraged to code," she says.

Li's dad, Xuyang, and mom, Hui Zhang, are coders themselves, but she didn't really catch the computer science bug until eighth grade, when she and two friends built a desktop app for a national computer science competition for girls.

Talking about conference, Li is looking forward to the keynote address, and attending labs and sessions with Apple developers.

"I also want to explore San Jose. I was there this past winter for a coding camp, but I didn't get to see much of the city."

She was too busy coding.


SundayMonday on 05/26/2019

Print Headline: PAPER TRAILS: In coding, Little Rock teen is a cut above


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