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What Is the Logic Behind Solving a Rubik’s Cube?

Although there are multiple methods to solve the Rubik’s Cube, the logic behind the puzzle remains the same: a player moves different pieces of the cube until all its six faces have the same colored pieces on each side. The six colors on the original cube are red, white, yellow, green, blue, and orange. The logic seems simple, but there are various strategies based on complex mathematical theories.

A quick search on citation indexes such as Google Scholar shows that the Rubik’s Cube has intrigued researchers and academics for quite some time. As peering through academic abstracts and journals is quite a task, we’ve broken down the logic behind solving the Rubik’s Cube in simpler terms.

What skills are required to logically solve the Rubik’s Cube?

The Rubik’s Cube is a test of one’s mathematical skills, ability to recognize and remember patterns and apply spatial intelligence. In addition, it also requires finger dexterity, the ability to move and manipulate objects quickly with one’s fingers in a focused and goal-directed manner.

1. Mathematics

The Rubik’s Cube is a mathematical puzzle at its core, and the logic behind solving it is based on geometrical symmetry, permutations, and combinations. As there are 43 quintillion permutations possible in a single 3x3x3 cube, players often rely on algorithms and abstract algebraic concepts such as group theory to solve the cube.

2. Spatial intelligence

Spatial intelligence relates to one’s conception of the observed visual world. The ability to visualize and manipulate 3D objects such as the Rubik’s Cube requires spatial intelligence. To solve the cube successfully, one needs to register each move in their mind and guide oneself towards the next one.

3. Memory and pattern-recognition

The Rubik’s Cube is also a test of memory and an assessment of pattern-recognition. Although the logic behind solving the cube is mathematical in nature, one needs to remember algorithms, notations, and moves that were recently made. In addition, a cube-solver should also be good at recognizing patterns while attempting to complete the puzzle, so that they can predict the correct moves.

4. Finger dexterity

The Rubik’s Cube has three layers, and a player solves each layer one by one. As centerpieces do not move, one needs to focus on the middle and corner pieces to solve the puzzle. One needs to quickly move one’s fingers in a logical and goal-directed manner to manipulate pieces of the cube while identifying patterns that might result in solving the puzzle successfully.

Using logic to solve the Rubik’s Cube – the CFOP method as an example

While there are many methods to solve the Rubik’s Cube, the CFOP is one of the more popular ones. It’s also called the Friedrich Method, after Jessica Friedrich, who discovered the method. The method consists of four logical steps:

  • Step 1: The Cross requires a player to form a single-colored cross on one of the faces
  • Step 2: This step is also known as the First Two Layers (F2L). A player needs to pair up a corner and an edge piece, and move them to the correct location. This step can be solved intuitively and doesn’t require the use of an algorithm.
  • Step 3: The Orientation of the Last Layer (OLL) requires creating one color on the top face, even at the cost of sacrificing the correctness of the colors on the walls.
  • Step 4: The last step is called the Permutation of the Last Layer (PLL). The pieces of the top layer are moved while preserving their orientation. For this stage, 21 algorithms can be applied.

As you can see, solving the Rubik’s Cube requires the ability to identify and predict patterns, manipulate the pieces of the cube swiftly in sync with strategies formed in mind, and synthesize these skills with mathematical logic.

GoCube is an easier way to understand the logic behind solving the Rubik’s Cube

While there are many logical but difficult ways of solving the Rubik’s Cube, there are easier and more contemporary alternatives. GoCube’s Smart Cube is a physical cube that syncs data with a mobile application to help players track their speed, patterns, and movements. The Smart Cube is unique because it synthesizes mathematical and cognitive concepts to teach logic strategies to solve the cube. It is also a great way to compete with friends and players across the world, and connect with the larger cubing community.

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