IIIT-D team scores victory in Microsoft's Whodunit? Challenge

Monday, February 4, 2013

Adding to the growing list of IIIT-D’s achievements, a team of eight students of this institute, Kuldeep Yadav (PhD scholar), Siddhartha Asthana (PhD scholar), Akshit Nanda (BTech CSE), Aman Singhal (BTech ECE), Chirag Gupta (BTech CSE), Lakshay Pandey (BTech CSE), Sanchit Agarwal (BTech ECE) and Umang Arora (BTech ECE), have won Microsoft Research India's prestigious Whodunit? Challenge in record five hours and seven minutes, beating top contestants from all over India, including those from IITs, to clinch the Rs one lakh price.

The challenge launched on February 1 was a unique nationwide social gaming competition aimed at gaining insight into how people can use information and communication technologies to mobilise large groups into solving difficult problems.

Kuldeep and his team members decoded the challenge --  which is inspired by US military’s research arm DARPA’s Network Challenge  -- in just  five hours and seven minutes against the maximum challenge time of 15 days, using their mobile phones.
The IIIT-D team will receive a price of Rs one lakh, according to the organisers.

After his team's victory, an elated Kuldeep said that "IIIT-D has won this challenge beating teams from all over India, including those from IITs and finished the competition in record 5 hours and 7 minutes."

The goal of the contest  was to make the participants crack a fictional mystery case using their mobile phones. The winner had to discover five clues -- Who, What Where, When Why -- surrounding a mysterious event. To win the contest, the participants needed to work as a team.

"This is an interesting social experiment to see how people come together to form teams using mobile phone networks. While similar experiments have been carried out using the Internet as a medium, the fact that mobile phone penetration in India far outstrips Internet penetration could throw up some fascinating insights,”  Bill Thies of Microsoft Research India said ahead of the launch of the contest.

DARPA, Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US military, has been hosting a series of such contests in America since 2004. However,  Microsoft  Research India,  which  is engaged in cutting-edge basic and applied research in multiple fields in computing, information technology and related areas, brought this unique challenge to India this year.

Scholars like Kuldeep enjoy excellent support from IIIT-D,  which has leading edge research groups in Information Management, Analytics, Security, Mobile Computing, Biometrics, and Software Engineering.