23 July 2008

Rubik's cube hustling?

So I've finally memorized a solution to the Rubik's Cube. (I may be speaking too soon; let's see if the move I could never remember is still in my head tomorrow.)

I'm very slow, though. It's not the most efficient solution.

That got me thinking. There are pool hustlers, who act like they're no good at pool, start taking bets, and then all of a sudden are really good. If someone could solve the Rubik's cube really quickly, could they make money off it as a Rubik's cube hustler? Bring the cube somewhere where there are people, act like you can only solve it slowly, take bets, and then solve it quickly.

It just might work.

It would be crucial to find the right audience, though -- somewhere where people are familiar with the cube. So a bar, the typical place for pool hustling, wouldn't work. The right math department might work. But not mine -- I have readers within my department, and I'm pretty sure I've given too much away by making this post. Fortunately I don't have the skill to pull this off anyway.

8 comments:

Charles said...

Only Rubik's cube bet I'd make with you is that I can solve one faster. I used to know a fairly thoroughly optimized algorithm, and could probably work it out again in a day or two if orals weren't looming.

CarlBrannen said...

I took a quick look at those solutions and I think they are unsuitable for the mind of a mathematician. Rather than fairly complicated sequences of moves, a much more elegant way to solve it is to study carefully what happens when you execute the commutator of two adjacent sides rotated by 90 degrees.

That is, let the two sides be R and L and let these designate a 90 degree rotation. Do a R L /R /L transform and call this "X". This will swap two pairs of corners, and perform a cyclic permutation on three edge cubies.

This is a 6th root of unity. Taking the transformation to the 2nd and 3rd powers are useful for twisting corners and edges.

Other than that, commutations between X and any simple thing like T will be very useful.

Blaise Pascal said...

With pool, there's a seeming continuum of skills. Most people who play pool can get to the skill level they need to be at to be taken by a hustler (better than most of the folks they know, but not super great). So a hustler can pretend to be less skilled than he really is until cash is on the line.

With a Cube, it's different. For most people, just being able to solve it is beyond their abilities/knowledge, and they are amazed at those who can. I certainly wouldn't take the bet of a stranger that he can solve it -- if he's willing to bet, I'm pretty sure he does.

That leaves solving time/number of moves/some other metric, amongst cubists, as the sole betting criterion.

I know multiple methods of solving the cube. Using a method I've been using for years) I just did a cube in 1:16 (and it felt slow). Using another method I'm trying to learn, 6:58. I suppose I could hustle someone by solving it a few times using the new method, betting I can do it more quickly, then switch to the old. But I doubt I'd get many takers.

Hany M. El-Hosseiny said...

Don't you have a summer stipend?

Anonymous said...

Or this post is part of the hustle. We're on to you!

David said...

Do you listen to Jay-Z?

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