Rubik’s Cube in 26 Moves

Julie Rehmeyer reports that Northeastern University computer scientist Daniel Kunkle has “proved that 26 moves are enough to solve any Rubik’s Cube, no matter how scrambled.” Amazingly, “Most researchers believe that just 20 steps are enough to solve any Rubik’s Cube, but no one has proved it yet.”

I got a standard 3×3 cube during the toy’s heyday in the early 1980s and learned to solve it layer by layer in a variation of what I now see is the method touted by David Singmaster. I eventually got bored with it after solving it dozens of times but never got faster than 3 minutes or so.

That makes me a piker, indeed, compared to those who compete in international competitions. The current world records is 9.86 seconds for a single solution and 11.76 seconds average (middle three of five solutions).

via Metafilter

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    I got a standard 3×3 cube during the toy’s heyday in the early 1980s and learned to solve it layer by layer in a variation of what I now see is the method touted by David Singmaster.

    The easiest way to solve it is to peel off the stickers and re-arrange them so each side is a solid color.

    I learned that strategy from Ted Kennedy.

  2. another matt says:

    The fastest way to solve it is to re-define the meaning of victory to be the scrambled mess that you currently hold in your hand.

    I learned that strategy from the Bush Administration.

  3. just me says:

    My husband can solve them very quickly-not in 10 seconds, but less than a minute.

    He tried to teach me, but to no avail I have to resort to sticker moving, or my favorite-taking the thing apart and rebuilding it all solved.

    I think some people just have the kind of brains that work to solve that stuff, and then there are people like me who work thirty minutes just to get one side solved.

  4. Anderson says:

    I can solve the problem to my satisfaction in two steps: place the cube directly in front of your car’s wheel, then place the transmission into drive.

  5. physics geek says:

    I was the only one of my friends who didn’t resort to buying the solution book. I wasted a few weeks late at night solving the darned thing. Turns out that my solution is of the iterative persuasion, which means that my solving time is entirely dependent on how the cube is oriented before I start, because my method is exactly the same each time. I did hit 1:30 once, but that was kind of a perfect storm for my method, which apparently differs from most others.

    I picked it up last month from where it had been gathering dust for 15 years. It took about 10 minutes to remember what the heck I was supposed to do, but I did it, just because.

    BTW, the 4×4 cube isn’t that difficult to solve. You merely solve the middle two rows then treat them as a single row, which reduces the solution to that of a 3×3. Solving the middle two rows did prove a bit challenging, though.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    I never found the Rubik’s Cube that engaging. The first time I picked one up (about 30 years ago) I solved it in about 7 seconds. I had somebody scramble it, tried again, and solved in about 15 seconds. Never picked one up again.

  7. just me says:

    BTW, the 4×4 cube isn’t that difficult to solve.

    I agree-okay I admit I didn’t figure it out on my own, but my husband taught me how to solve it, and unlike the 3×3 I was able to solve the 4×4 one with the method he taught.

    We also had a pyramid one, and that one was easy to solve too-or at least I could do it, after I learned the solution.

    I wouldn’t have figured the solutions out to any of them on my own.

  8. Dodd says:

    I memorized a method I picked up from someone else back in sixth grade that allowed me to solve it within a few seconds plus or minus of one minute every time. I’ve long since forgotten it now, though.

  9. soccer dad says:

    I read that Will Smith learned how to solve the cube for “Pursuit of Happyness.” He had a coach though.