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THE MATHEMATICS OF RUBIK’S CUBES Sean Rogers

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Possibilities 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible states Depends on properties of each face That’s a lot!! Model each as a set Define R_0 as the solved state {r_1, r_2, r_4 …, r_9, b_1, b_2, b_3 … b_9, w_1 …} So every set has 54 elements

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Functions Define f: R_x R_y as this: We have a special name for this: L Similarly, we have R, U, B, D, R^2, L’, R’, etc. These functions are bijections from one set to another Obvious- one-to-one correspondence, |R_x|=|R_y|

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How to get from A to B R_7 R_6 R_5 R_4 R_3 R_2 R_1 R_0

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Algorithms We collect these bijections into algorithms (macros) to get from one set to another (when you know the properties of the 2 sets required)

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Groups

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Examples

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To Rubik’s Cubes Our group will be R, all possible permutations of the solved state (remember there are ~43 quintillion) * will be a rotation of a face (associative so long as order is preserved) Inverse is going the opposite direction

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Cycles and Notation Cycle- permutation of the elements of some set X which maps the elements of some subset S set to each other in a cyclic manner, while fixing all other elements (mapping them to themselves) (1)(2 3 4) 1 stays put, 2, 3, and 4 are cycled in some manner Ex. {1,2,3,4} {3,4,1,2} is a cycle You can’t just switch 2 blocks- permutations are products of 2-cycles Ex. (1 2 3)=(1 2)(1 3) Analogue- Prime factorizations

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Importance of Cycles

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Conjugacy

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The Cube Several methods to solve They make even bigger, harder cubes You don’t need this math though- its just a rigorous way of defining a puzzle Invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik

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