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$50,000 to Solve the Most Complicated Puzzle Ever Attempted

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Shredder Challenge puzzle example

The DARPA Shredder Challenge involves piecing together roughly 10,000 pieces of different shredded documents. Manuel Cebrian of University of California, San Diego calls it "the most challenging puzzle ever created."

Credit: DARPA

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers are participating in the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Shredder Challenge, which involves piecing together about 10,000 pieces of different documents that have been shredded. The UCSD team will use a combination of crowdsourcing and computer-vision algorithms to solve the puzzle. The researchers will analyze crowdsourced partial solutions with algorithms for clustering pieces and finding which pieces are likely to fit together, which will make subsequent puzzle-solving easier for participants.

The team devoted a great deal of time discussing how to create an incentive structure that will encourage participation, focusing on a referral-based crowdsourcing system that helped the Massachusetts Institute of Technology team win DARPA's Red Balloon Challenge in 2009. If UCSD wins, the amount of money a participant receives is based on how many edges they connected in the puzzles. For every edge connected by the participant, he or she would receive $1. The person who recruited that participant would receive 50 cents, and the person above that recruiter would receive 25 cents.

"Recruiting players is essential to solving all the puzzles, especially as they get bigger," says UCSD's Manuel Cebrian.

From UC San Diego News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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