Welcome to the geekiest challenge of the year: The U.S. military’s research arm, DARPA, wants the help of puzzle lovers nationwide to piece together the remnants of destroyed documents found in war zones.


(Image via Darpa.mil)

The goal: to identify how U.S. war fighters can get at sensitive information, even after docs are shredded.

The “Shredder Challenge” is comprised of five separate puzzles, each one with a different number of documents, subject matter, and method of shredding. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will be able to tell if a participant completes the problem because there is a puzzle to solve at the end.

The Shredder Challenge explains that a variety of techniques currently exist for reconstructing shredded documents. These include manual assembly, computerized algorithms, and “hybrid operator-assisted approaches.”

DARPA wants to know which works best, and it is offering a reward of $50,000 to the person who helps figure it out. Winners will be announced Dec. 5.

(Via J. David Goodman.)