DARPA Shredder Challenge Won!

DARPA's Shredder Challenge was set up to solve a problem faced by warfighters who find torn-up or shredded documents in war zones. Is it possible to reconstitute shredded documents?

The $50,000 DARPA Shredder Challenge began on October 27, 2011 and concluded on December 2, 2011 after all five puzzles were successfully solved by a group calling itself "All Your Shreds Are Belong To U.S."

Take a look at successfully solved problems below. The image on the left is the original; the image on the right shows how tiny bits - or shredda - are put together to solve the puzzle.


(Original (left) and solved problem shredda [pdf])

Here's one with a greater level of difficulty, consisting of hand-drawn maps and text.


(Original (left) and solved problem shredda [pdf])

In his 2006 novel Rainbows End, sf writer and computer scientist Vernor Vinge solves DARPA's problem by imagining a fabric "camera tunnel" coated with thousands of tiny camera lenses that is used to photograph document shreds from all angles and then recombine the images back into documents.

The fabric tunnel that stretched out behind it was a "camera tunnel..." The shredded fragments of books and magazines flew down the tunnel like leaves in a tornado, twisting and tumbling. The inside of the fabric was stiched with thousands of tiny cameras. The shreds were being photographed again and again, from every angle and orientation, till finally the torn leaves dropped into a bin just in front of Robert.
(Read more about Vinge's camera tunnel)

See the DARPA Shredder Challenge: Winning Team's Submissions (pdf) and the DARPA Shredder Challenge site.

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