2013 UNTANGLED online gaming competition to run through Sept. 17

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 17:32

After the success of her 2012 online game competition, Dr. Gayatri Mehta, assistant professor of electrical engineering in UNT’s College of Engineering, is conducting another online game competition this year with new puzzles and games.

The contest allows the public to compete for prizes while also helping advance the development of next generation electronics.

As the demand for smaller and more energy efficient electrical devices continues to grow, electrical engineers are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to best fit all the electrical components into the devices.

Mehta and her team of student researchers have taken an innovative approach to this challenge, turning the problem of efficiently mapping electrical components into a web-based computer game called UNTANGLED.

UNTANGLED received the People’s Choice Award in the Games & Apps category of the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge conducted by Science and National Science Foundation.

Participants can compete for prizes by playing UNTANGLED between Sept. 1 (Sunday) and Sept. 17 (Tuesday). Twenty gift cards will be awarded to the overall best players in the competition. Gift cards also will be given to the players with the highest score in each sub-game. Gift cards will range from $10 to $100, with the overall high scorer receiving $100.

The game can be accessed at http://untangled.unt.edu. Registration is free and only requires an active email address.

The game features various series of blocks inlaid on a graph. Players are asked to arrange the blocks more efficiently while adhering to certain constraints, mimicking the challenge of efficiently organizing components within electronic devices.

"Our game brings together contributions from individuals from all points of view and backgrounds to solve important engineering problems," said Dr. Mehta. "In addition, we have found that it can result in players themselves thinking in new ways. This way of addressing problems has been coined computational thinking. To the players it may be the insight that leads to a higher score or a more 'visually appealing' graph. To us, it is an approach that could lead to the next generation 'creative' mapping algorithm."

By visually and mathematically analyzing the graphs of the top scoring players, the team hopes to learn more about human intuition and develop new algorithms, or mathematical equations, that will help in the development of future cell phones, medical devices and other electronics.

“From our initial results, we have developed a new algorithm that works by laying out our graphs in common patterns, mirroring the thought processes of some of our players,” Dr. Mehta said. “This algorithm can already outperform our existing algorithms and most of our players as well.”

The research project is funded by the National Science Foundation.


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