Rubik's Cubes, Algorithms and Reward I Oxford Open Learning

    Rubik's Cubes

    Rubik’s Cubes, Algorithms and Reward

    By Harry Johnstone, a student with OHS who has some tips for anyone struggling with this classic technical puzzle…

    I first got into Rubik’s Cubes when my auntie bought me an original one for Christmas a few years ago, just before we went to France for a month. Throughout the trip I was determined to solve it. I looked all through YouTube for videos on how to solve it and they did help, but I still didn’t quite complete it and struggled a lot. Despite this, I kept trying. Towards the end of the trip I still hadn’t quite solved it, but I had picked up techniques and I knew my way around the cube.

    On the last couple of days of the trip we stopped at some family friends for a night. The man we were staying with was a scientist (a theoretical physicist) and a mathematician, and had grown up with Rubik’s Cubes. He helped me and we found a good method on the internet. It was well worded and easy to understand. I then managed to solve the Rubik’s Cube! I could solve it while looking at the method so I could read the algorithms, and later learnt how to solve it off by heart. With the method I used you had to memorise 5 algorithms. That might sound hard, but it’s not that difficult once you get the hang of it.

    An algorithm is (In Rubik’s Cube terms) a sequence of moves that get the cube from one step to another. You need to memorise several of them to solve the cube but it’s not very difficult if you practice, as muscle memory will take over. Different methods, with practice, will help you solve it faster, but generally the faster the method, the more algorithms you need to memorise.

    I like the Rubik’s Cube because it’s extremely rewarding to finally solve, and fun to time yourself and try to beat your record. It showed me that if I persevere with things I can achieve them, even when it feels impossible. It’s a great logic puzzle that can really mess with your brain sometimes, and it has show value! There are so many different types of puzzles based around the Rubik’s cube. Some are easier, some harder. However, a lot of them have very similar solving methods. So, if you learn how to solve the standard 3×3 Cube, the rest will be a lot easier.

    After I learned to solve it, my uncle wanted me to teach him too. It took a while, with a few lessons every now and then when I saw him. But in the end he did it. He managed to solve it off by heart and we often time each other and have races. He also learned how to solve it blindfolded, and started to teach me how to do this. There are other shapes of Rubik’s puzzles, and he can solve most of those too. My uncle also taught my cousin how to solve it. He was five at the time!

    I highly recommend the Rubik’s Cube to anyone of all ages. It will take some effort but you will get there in the end. Why not check out the link on its machinations below?


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