Learning the Cube

I’ve had a lot of fun with some cubing events recently in Williamstown. The first was an official cube event organized by local student Ric Donati. For results see

The second was earlier today, a cube workshop run by myself and my son, Cameron, at the Milne Library in town. We hope to hold one on campus soon; if you’re interested please contact me at [email protected].

I was taught how to do the 3x3x3 by two former SMALL students of mine, Alan Chang (now at Chicago) and Umang Varma (now at Michigan). I figured as a math professor I should know how to do it. Interestingly, once you learn how to do the 4x4x4 and the centers of the 5x5x5 you know all you need to solve any sized standard cube (provided you’re patient enough!). I did compete in the 4x4x4, but sadly I never trained for speed, and was disqualified for being too slow (I solved my first in 5mins7sec, but you needed 1.30 or less on the 4).

Not surprisingly there’s a lot of great math tied up in the cube. Similar to chess, there’s notation to allow us to discuss the moves; once you master the notation you can follow along. Unfortunately I cannot upload any new images or files, so I’ve posted some quick notes on my homepage here. Here’s a few interesting tidbits.