Rubik's cube: An energy perspective

Yiing Rei Chen, Chi Lun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


What if we played the Rubik's cube game by simple intuition? We would rotate the cube, probably in the hope of getting a more organized pattern in each next step. Yet frustration occurs easily, and we soon find ourselves trapped as the game progresses no further. Played in this completely strategy-less style, the entire problem of the Rubik's cube game can be compared to that of complex chemical reactions such as protein folding, only with less guidance in the searching process. In this work we look into this random-searching process by means of thermodynamics and compare the game's dynamics with that of a faithful stochastic model constructed from the statistical energy landscape theory (SELT). This comparison reveals the peculiar nature of SELT, which relies on the random energy approximation and often chops up energy correlations among nearby configurations. Our observation provides a general insight for the use of SELT in the studies of these frustrated systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012815
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 Jan 2014


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