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Math of the Rubik’s Cube

It’s rare for mathematical research to break into the mainstream media. New papers are posted on the arXiv every day, and published in journals all over the world throughout the year, but unless a famous problem is purported to have been solved (in this case, a famous problem is usually one that has a cash prize associated with its solution), knowledge of such advances is only found by those specifically seeking it. Last week, however, there an exception to this general rule was made for a new result concerning the Rubik’s cube.The conclusion, reached by an international team of mathematicians, is that the Rubik’s cube can always be solved in 20 moves or less, and that, moreover, their result is in some sense the best possible. This result was featured on the front page of Yahoo News for a couple of days, which I found surprising.

What do I mean . . . → Read More: Math of the Rubik’s Cube