Cubing talk for a Mensa regional gathering

Discussion in 'General Speedcubing Discussion' started by cmhardw, Jan 14, 2013.

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  1. cmhardw

    cmhardw Premium Member

    Apr 5, 2006
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Hi everyone,

    I am giving my second cubing talk for a Mensa regional gathering here in Orlando later this month. The talk will be a one hour talk, and I am allowed to talk about whatever I would like.

    Last year I went with a talk mostly about blindfolded cubing and memorizing using journey methods and images. I did some speedsolve demos as well as a blindfolded 3x3x3 solve. At the end I took questions, and there was a mix of questions about blindfold cubing and cubing in general.

    This year I plan to talk about solving the cube, which relates to feedback I got last year after the talk from people asking me how to actually solve it. I am not going to teach any of the usual solutions I show people. Instead I have listed the talk as "How to solve any Rubik's cube-like puzzle (and even how to do it blindfolded)"

    I will essentially teach how commutators work, but I do not plan at all to even mention the word commutator until maybe the very end of the presentation, and I plan to only mention it in passing. I am going to follow a method very similar to the one presented on this website, as this is the site where I first learned about commutators. I also use this approach when solving a new puzzle, the curvy copter being my latest example.

    I am really excited about this talk. My talk last year was a pretty big hit (and is part of the reason why they asked me to come back again this year). Considering the audience, I figure that most Mensans would like an approach to figure out how to solve the last pieces of the cube on their own rather than just be taught a standard solution by rote memory. I will probably still give a basic layout of how to build a layer by using 3 move insertions and/or hide moves to place pieces.

    I wanted to post on the board in case anyone was interested to hear how the talk goes. I'm not sure if I will be able to video the talk this year, though I will ask. I am also thrilled to finally be giving a talk about commutators (though I have learned from experience that mentioning the word "commutator" even once will turn the audience off to the message instantly). I am going to say that the theme of the solving part of the talk is going to be "How to move a small number of pieces on the cube without affecting what you've already solved". That phrase will be my stand in for the word "commutator", and I might try to come up with a flashy name for that, though I imagine I'll just call them 3 cycles, or short cycles or something.

    I still plan to do some demo speedsolves and blindsolves, as people like to see that, but the main focus of the talk will definitely be to teach them how to perform simple, intuitive 3 cycles for both corners and edges using commutators.

    I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes, and hopefully I'll be able to get a video of it, but no guarantees! :)
  2. Stefan

    Stefan Member

    May 7, 2006
    What's that surgery or military term for precise incisions/attacks that I can't quite remember right now?
  3. lcsbiffi

    lcsbiffi Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    incision ?
  4. Cubenovice

    Cubenovice Forever Slow

    Hi Chris,
    It is nice to hear that they are asking you back.
    You must have made a good impression!

    I think 3-cycles will be a very good name.
    Chances are that someone in the audience will bring up the term commutator…

    If you would like to offer an easy complete method it could be F2L via keyhole, then position edges Heise style and finish with corner cycles.
    But I suppose for mensa you could add edge cycles too.

  5. Dene

    Dene Premium Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    Incursion maybe?

    On topic: I'd love to hear how the talk goes, keep us filled in Mr Hardwick!
  6. qqwref

    qqwref Member

    Dec 18, 2007
    a <script> tag near you
    Sounds like a very interesting subject, I'd like to hear how it goes. Don't forget to mention how you can use commutators to flip/twist pieces in place :)

    A silly commutator-y method:
    - Solve 3 corners intuitively
    - Last 5 corners with commutators
    - Place 3+4 edges (on L/R) intuitively
    - Last 5 edges with commutators
  7. cmhardw

    cmhardw Premium Member

    Apr 5, 2006
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Hi everyone!

    Thanks for the advice!

    Stefan, I'm thinking of a "surgical strike" for the term you mentioned. I could use something like "surgical cycle" or "surgical move" or something to that effect.

    Michael, I like that method. I may show them that if I have time. I mainly wanted to show them some common situations (the cube solved, but with 2 or 3 corners twisted). I also wanted to show them how to place an F2L edge using a basic commutator with E as the slice, and doing a 3 move insertion.

    My goal for the talk is not really to teach them a fully formed method by the end of the talk (though I may briefly show Michael's method as one possible approach). I mainly want to show them how to reason with commutators such that they can have a way to discover their own algorithms for getting past any step they are stuck at.

    Also, Ralph I may show them a way to incorporate commutators into a more traditional last layer approach, but I would probably only show them briefly how this could be done.

    Thanks for the tips everyone! I will post this weekend on how it goes!



    Also, does anyone know of a good 3x3x3 cube applet that I could use WITHOUT needing the internet to run it? I would install it on my computer and run the program so that I could show them cycles real time on the projector. I'm not sure if I will have internet access. I most likely will, but I'd like to be prepared with an already installed program just in case.

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  8. MaeLSTRoM

    MaeLSTRoM Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    Gelatinbrain is good, because you can see both halves of the cube at once while solving.
  9. The Doctor

    The Doctor Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    Hortense, Georgia. USA.
    Cube Twister is a very good applet.
    And the correct term is "Incursion".
    And I'm not a member of Mensa yet. I will be the moment I can scrounge up the extra cash to take my test, which as I've taken it before (didn't pay my membership and it was more of a practice test) I'll know I'll get it, but I don't believe there are any local members, nor people in the general area who could administer the test. So I'm a little confused on how to take it, and I'd love to join, any ideas on what to do?
  10. cmhardw

    cmhardw Premium Member

    Apr 5, 2006
    Atlanta, Georgia
    The talk went well! I spoke for a little over an hour, and had a turn out of about 15 people. I started with some general information about sequential movement puzzles, shape changing puzzles like square-1 and the curvy copter, and gave a basic rundown of what commutators allow you to do when solving. I did not mention "commutator" at any point, and I think this was a good decision. I got a good reaction from most of the people there!

    In short, the main gist of the talk was that the cube breaks down into 4 problems that must be solved:
    1) corner permutation
    2) corner orientation
    3) edge permutation
    4) edge orientation

    I called the process of using commutators to solve "cycling pieces" and the general technique I referred to as "cycling". I explained that "cycling" (commutators) are a 4 step process:

    1) Find a slice on the cube. Come up with a sequence of turns that destroys exactly one piece on the slice.
    2) Turn the slice
    3) Restore the destroyed piece by performing the destroy sequence in reverse
    4) Undo the slice turn

    This had people pretty confused, but I used Cubetwister and projected it on the main screen and showed lots of commutator examples, reiterating what I was doing at each step. By the end of the commutators demonstration I could tell that a good number of the people got the idea, and thought it was really cool how comms work! That felt really good to see people have the "Aha!" moment! :)

    At the end of the talk I showed them how to handle odd parity in the corner and edge orbits. I defined parity as whether you needed an even or odd number of "2-cycles" to solve the pieces.

    I also did some demo solves, a speedsolve and a blindsolve and they really seemed to like both!

    I did not get a video of the event, there was no one there to film, but the talk went over very well! I have the powerpoint presentation I used also. If anyone would like to see it, and if there's a way to upload it to the forum, then I don't mind posting it here for people to see.

    That's the update! Thanks everyone who's following this thread for your help, and for your interest! If I end up doing another cube talk in the future I'll let you all know about it!
  11. speedpicker

    speedpicker Member

    Jul 3, 2011
    I for one would love to see your powerpoint.

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