Today's troops often confiscate remnants of destroyed documents from war zones, but reconstructing entire documents from them is a daunting task.
To discover if they can unearth a more effective means to do just that, the folks at DARPA have come up with a challenge that they hope will encourage individuals to develop a more automated solution.
That's right. The defense organization is hoping that by offering a whopping $50,000 in prize money, entrants to its so-called "Shredder Challenge" will generate some ideas that it might be able to make use of.
The Challenge itself consists of solving five individual puzzles embedded in the content of documents that have all been shredded by different means. To participate in the challenge, participants must download the images of the shredded documents from the challenge web site, reconstruct the documents, solve the puzzles, and submit the correct answers before Dec. 4, 2011.
Points will be awarded to those who provide the correct answers to the mandatory questions associated with each puzzle. $1,000 will be awarded for each point scored up to $50,000 for a perfect score. DARPA will then award one cash prize of up to $50,000 to the participant who scored the highest total number of points by the deadline.
Registration is open to all eligible parties at www.shredderchallenge.com, which provides detailed rules and images of the shredded documents for the five problems.
Clearly, this is an application that would benefit from the expert knowledge of those in the image processing field who might be able to develop -- or deploy -- a set of vision-based algorithms to reconstruct the documents and hence solve the puzzles.
Interestingly enough, of course, several individuals contributing to the discussion forums on the Shredder Challenge web site are taking exactly that approach...