Google helps find all solutions to Rubik's Cube

A group of mathematicians, desperate to discover all solutions to Rubik's Cube, get free computer time from Google and reach their Holy Grail.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Rubik's Cube is a little like Carrot Top. You're either into it or you stare, uncomprehending, as others express their enthusiasm.

Still, there are people all over the world who are desperate to discover all the different ways in which you can solve this infernal puzzle. These people are often called mathematicians.

So, according to AFP, an international group of these mathematicians begged some computer time from Google in order to unburden themselves of an issue that had, perhaps, disturbed their personal relationships for far too long.

Because these mathematicians worship the concept of efficiency (well, one of their number was Google engineer John Dethridge), they were desperate to discover the fewest number of moves it would take to solve Rubik's Cube, regardless of how muddled the colored squares began.

The group wondered, indeed, just how many moves God would need in order to solve such a mundane, earthly problem. In a statement to AFP, the group said: "There are many different algorithms, varying in complexity and number of moves required, but those that can be memorized by a mortal typically require more than forty moves."

See, it's easy. CC Nickstone333/Flickr

It is not easy being a mere mortal. We have deficiencies that tend to scupper our efficiencies. God, on the other hand, does not have a mortgage to pay.

So, according to these number-munchers: "One may suppose God would use a much more efficient algorithm, one that always uses the shortest sequence of moves; this is known as God's Algorithm. The number of moves this algorithm would take in the worst case is called God's Number. At long last, God's Number has been shown to be 20."

At long last.

Yes, it is possible to solve Rubik's Cube with 20 moves, regardless of how totally messed up the colors are when you start. And, let me just tell you that my calculations, supported by these mathematicians, suggest there are 43 quintillion starting permutations.

It seems clear that this algorithm, details of which you can find at cube20.org, should be preserved and placed into the service of the world's governments.

If it can show the 20 moves to solve something as complex as Rubik's Cube, surely it can show what needs to be done with social security, unemployment, oh, and prioritizing your Facebook friend requests.