Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

Can You Reconstruct Shredded Documents?

November 2nd, 2011 / in research horizons, resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

DARPA Shredder Challenge [image courtesy DARPA].That’s the question being posed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which recently announced the DARPA Shredder Challenge — a competition for computer scientists and puzzle enthusiasts alike to piece together a series of shredded documents. The goal is “to identify and assess potential capabilities that could be used by our warfighters operating in war zones, but might also create vulnerabilities to sensitive information that is protected through our own shredding practices throughout the U.S. national security community.” DARPA will award one cash prize of up to $50,000.

As Dan Kauffman, Director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O), noted in announcing the Challenge:

“The ability to reconstruct shredded documents will potentially yield information that may save lives or offer critical information about an adversary’s plans. Currently, this process is much too slow and too labor-intensive, particularly if the documents are handwritten. We are looking to the Shredder Challenge to generate some leap-ahead thinking in this area.”

The Challenge consists of…

…five individual puzzles, each composed of one or more single-sided, hand-written documents. According to DARPA:

The pages for each puzzle have been shredded separately; however, the shredded pages for each individual puzzle have been mixed together. All documents were shredded on newly purchased, commercial grade shredders. Some shredded puzzle pieces may have some slightly blurred writing due to the transfer of oil from the shredding blades. Additionally, each puzzle may contain a small number of additional pieces or a few missing pieces, precluding a 100% reconstructed document. After shredding, puzzle pieces have been collected, arrayed top-side-up, and scanned at 400 dots-per-inch using one or more TIF 6.0 images (lossless compression). To score points, participants must download the images of the shredded documents from the Challenge website, reconstruct the documents, solve the puzzles, and submit the correct answers to the Challenge website before the … deadline.

The Challenge began at 12pm EDT on Oct. 27, 2011, and runs until 11:59pm EST on Dec. 4, 2011. Challenge results will be posted on the Challenge website shortly thereafter.

Participation is open to individuals and teams of all ages, but entries may be submitted only by a registered participant, who must be a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S. and 18 years of age or older at the time of registration. (Registration closes at 5pm EST on Nov. 28.)

To learn more and participate, click here.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

Can You Reconstruct Shredded Documents?