Are You Ready For DARPA's $50,000 'Shredder Challenge'?

By Meera Dolasia on November 5, 2011

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If you like puzzles, here is a cool challenge that can earn you some major moola. The US Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) is offering up to $50,000 USD to solve five puzzles created from images of one or more shredded documents.

Launched about a week ago, anyone can enter the Shredder Challenge by registering with the agency and downloading the puzzles. There are no set rules on how the puzzles should be solved - Contestants can physically cut and paste them, use a computer algorithm or, just their mental puzzle solving prowess. They will know they are successful when the shredded mess turns into a readable document.

While this may sound like easy money, there are a few twists and turns within each puzzle that have to be overcome. To begin with, each one has a few extra shreds that do not belong there and, also some shreds that are missing.

And, it gets worse - Each puzzle is actually a document with a number of pages, which have all been mixed up together and shredded in different ways, adding to the reconstruction challenge. To give you an idea of what you are going to be dealing with, puzzle number 5 has over 6,000 strips that need to be put together!

To prove that they have solved the puzzles, contestants have to submit the messages, a picture of the solved puzzle and most importantly, how they solved it. That's because the main reason for setting up the contest is to provide US soldiers different methods of reconstructing shredded documents, which they often encounter when searching for intelligence in war zones.

The points assigned to each puzzle are not the same - More points are allocated to the complicated ones. While solving all five puzzles would be just amazing, contestants can submit as many as they can solve, by the December 4th deadline and still be eligible for some of the prize money. Also, while anyone can enter, only residents of the United States of America will be eligible to receive the prize money.

The competitor who solves the most puzzles accurately will be declared the winner. In case of a tie? Well it all goes to the genius that submits the solved puzzles first. So what are you waiting for? Go to and get busy - You do have an extra hour this weekend.


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  • cool girlThursday, November 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm
    • coolboyThursday, November 10, 2011 at 5:49 am
      This would be fun and hard.
      • petli
        petliWednesday, November 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm
        wow!!! cool.... i would b so good
        • POBWednesday, November 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm
          i want to enter DARPA so bad but it would take me forever even with my whole family:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(
          • sk8trgalll
            sk8trgalllWednesday, November 9, 2011 at 5:38 am
            oh my i wanna do it! but then again it would take me 3,000 years :/
            • jelloTuesday, November 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm
              i want to enter DARPA !!!
              • dogcat11
                dogcat11Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm
                • epicpie
                  epicpieTuesday, November 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm
                  12 moves 24 seconds!!!!
                  • pop diva glamor girlTuesday, November 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm
                    oh my god that sounds hard
                    • iyanni
                      iyanniTuesday, November 8, 2011 at 11:38 am
                      That sounds cool

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