Friday, November 25, 2011

37,000 euros for a puzzle

"Identify and evaluate methods of work that could use our fighters, but also find vulnerabilities to confidential information that is protected through our shredding practices, carried out by the community of U.S. national security." So says the American Research Projects Agency Defense Advanced (DARPA) Challenge goal Harrow ( ). This contest is to connect and interpret information from different manuscripts war documents, previously broken like a jigsaw puzzle. Who gets to reconstruct and interpret the information in the shortest time will win $ 50,000 (about 37,000 euros).

A Manuel Cebrian, Spanish researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of California at San Diego (UCSD), has been put between the eyes get a team of students from experts in game theory to cryptanalysts .

Neither Cebrian and his companions were left with a penny of the prize. "Share $ 50,000 from the people we help connect the pieces. Although for now we have about 1,000 people around the world working on the puzzle, I think we need about 10,000 to finish."

To participate in this group, simply register on page . "The pieces of paper does not fit perfectly, are dirty oil and brown, wrinkled, and the ink run. We need humans and computers to solve it." Such challenges are not new to Cebrián. A couple of years ago DARPA 10 red balloons balloons placed 2.4 m in diameter in different parts of the country at random, in order to "test the ability of social networks." The challenge was to locate them in the shortest possible time, in exchange for $ 40,000 (30,000 euros).

A team of researchers from MIT, which was Cebrian, took just nine hours to find them all. "In fact, proposed by the DARPA challenges are metaphors. For example, techniques to find the balloons can be used in the future to locate people. And 40,000 or $ 50,000 is a small price to get as much research and intelligence."

The current team has devised Cebrián an incentive structure that encourages participation to move the pieces of the puzzle, because it was precisely the public partnership that allowed citizens to find the balloons two years ago. "Finding the globes confirmed my theories about the power of social networks and incentives. We have applied the same model to reconstruct the puzzle."

If your team manages to connect all parts, external contributors will win a little money. For each of the pieces fitted, one dollar, the person who invited the project who joined them, you get 50 cents, and the person above that recruiter, if any, 25 cents. That is something.


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