The Rubik’s Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik.
Many 3×3×3 Rubik’s Cube enthusiasts use a notation developed by David Singmaster to denote a sequence of moves, referred to as “Singmaster notation”. Its relative nature allows algorithms to be written in such a way that they can be applied regardless of which side is designated the top or how the colours are organised on a particular cube.
- F (Front): the side currently facing the solver
- B (Back): the side opposite the front
- U (Up): the side above or on top of the front side
- D (Down): the side opposite the top, underneath the Cube
- L (Left): the side directly to the left of the front
- R (Right): the side directly to the right of the front
- ƒ (Front two layers): the side facing the solver and the corresponding middle layer
- b (Back two layers): the side opposite the front and the corresponding middle layer
- u (Up two layers): the top side and the corresponding middle layer
- d (Down two layers): the bottom layer and the corresponding middle layer
- l (Left two layers): the side to the left of the front and the corresponding middle layer
- r (Right two layers): the side to the right of the front and the corresponding middle layer
- x (rotate): rotate the entire Cube on R
- y (rotate): rotate the entire Cube on U
- z (rotate): rotate the entire Cube on F
When a prime symbol ( ′ ) follows a letter, it denotes an anticlockwise face turn; while a letter without a prime symbol denotes a clockwise turn. These directions are as one is looking at the specified face. A letter followed by a 2 (occasionally a superscript 2) denotes two turns, or a 180-degree turn. R is right side clockwise, but R′ is right side anticlockwise. The letters x, y, and z are used to indicate that the entire Cube should be turned about one of its axes, corresponding to R, U, and F turns respectively. When x, y, or z are primed, it is an indication that the cube must be rotated in the opposite direction. When they are squared, the cube must be rotated 180 degrees.
The most common deviation from Singmaster notation, and in fact the current official standard, is to use “w”, for “wide”, instead of lowercase letters to represent moves of two layers; thus, a move of Rw is equivalent to one of r.
For methods using middle-layer turns (particularly corners-first methods), there is a generally accepted “MES” extension to the notation where letters M, E, and S denote middle layer turns. It was used e.g. in Marc Waterman’s Algorithm.
- M (Middle): the layer between L and R, turn direction as L (top-down)
- E (Equator): the layer between U and D, turn direction as D (left-right)
- S (Standing): the layer between F and B, turn direction as F
Speedcubing Method (CFOP)
A solution commonly used by speedcubers was developed by Jessica Fridrich. This method is called CFOP standing for “cross, F2L, OLL, PLL”. It is similar to the layer-by-layer method but employs the use of a large number of algorithms, especially for orienting and permuting the last layer. The cross is done first, followed by first layer corners and second layer edges simultaneously, with each corner paired up with a second-layer edge piece, thus completing the first two layers (F2L). This is then followed by orienting the last layer, then permuting the last layer (OLL and PLL respectively). Fridrich’s solution requires learning roughly 120 algorithms but allows the Cube to be solved in only 55 moves on average.
A now well-known method was developed by Lars Petrus. In this method, a 2×2×2 section is solved first, followed by a 2×2×3, and then the incorrect edges are solved using a three-move algorithm, which eliminates the need for a possible 32-move algorithm later. The principle behind this is that in layer-by-layer, one must constantly break and fix the completed layer(s); the 2×2×2 and 2×2×3 sections allow three or two layers (respectively) to be turned without ruining progress. One of the advantages of this method is that it tends to give solutions in fewer moves. For this reason, the method is also popular for fewest move competitions.
The Roux Method, developed by Gilles Roux, is similar to the Petrus method in that it relies on block building rather than layers, but derives from corners-first methods. In Roux, a 3×2×1 block is solved, followed by another 3×2×1 on the opposite side. Next, the corners of the top layer are solved. The cube can then be solved using only moves of the U layer and M slice.
The basic CFOP solutions can be downloaded here: http://www.rubik.com.cn/cfopnav.htm