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Interview with Michael Gottlieb

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July 12, 2009 : Interview with Speedsolving.com member Michael Gottlieb : Currently (at the time of this interview) is ranked 11th in the world for 5x5x5 Average (1:26.81) and 9th in the world for 5x5x5 Single (1:18.84). He is the former 7x7x7 Single World Record holder and has held 4 additional Continental records.

Location:
I live about half an hour from New York City, but I currently spend about six months a year at Caltech (near Los Angeles), where I go to college.



Occupation:
Student. I really have no idea what I'm going to do after graduation but hopefully it will involve math in some way.

What is your favorite event, why?
Personally, I'm really fond of 5x5. It was the first competition puzzle I was ever world-class at, and even now I really like how it is a balance between small cubes (where you need to turn fast to get good times) and huge cubes (where recognition and endurance are the key skills). It's not so fast that every little bit of time is important, but not so slow that you get bored. 3x3 OH is also really fun for me because you can lookahead enough to save moves during F2L while saving time as well. And, of course, everything is more fun if it's done on a computer cube.

What made you become interested in solving puzzles?
For me, it was the mathematical aspect. I've always been interested in mathematical and logical puzzles, for the challenge of solving them, so it was no surprise that I eventually picked up the Rubik's Cube. At first I was mostly interested in pattern-making and understanding the theory, as I thought speedsolving would be far too difficult. I first really became interested in speedcubing when I met Tim Reynolds in high school; he showed me that being fast was not a matter of innate dexterity or insane memorization feats, but instead was a result of practice and determination.

What, in your opinion, is your biggest "cubing" accomplishment?
For speedsolving, I'm really proud of being the first person to ever get a sub-minute time on a computer 5x5. As far as cubing theory, I think my best accomplishment is inventing what I call "pixeling", a very efficient way to make patterns on the centers of bigcubes.

What are your other hobbies?
My other hobbies include math-related hobbies - math itself, cryptography, knots, logic and number puzzles, origami, programming - and skills with mental and physical components - juggling, minesweeper, tetris, and Stepmania/FFR. I think one of the reasons I'm so interested in speedcubing is that it fits in both categories.

What is/are your pet peeve(s)?
I don't like when people insult my intelligence, and when people act authoritative about a topic that they really don't understand at all.

What will the future of cubing be like and how would you like cubing to progress?
Unfortunately the newest cubers these days seem to be getting younger, less patient, and less respectful, and because cubing's popularity seems to be increasing faster and faster with each coming year, that's probably what the future of cubing will be like. I think the ideal for me would be to have a community of dedicated, intelligent, and respectful cubers who work together to advance the practice and the theory of speedcubing.

So far, what has been your most enjoyable cubing experience?
I think my happiest cubing-related experience ever was finally finishing and testing out the first working version of IsoCubeSim. It was really amazing to finish a long-term project and end up with a program that worked so well that I could break records on it.
 
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