Five Questions with a Rubik’s Cube Speedcuber
Posted Jul 13, 2023
By Erica Bush ’25
In 1977, one of the most popular toys of all time was released: the Rubik’s Cube. July 13 is Rubik Day, a day to enjoy the Rubik’s Cube and celebrate the birthday of Ernő Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube.
A classic three-by-three Rubik’s Cube has over 43 quintillion possible combinations to be solved. Despite this, all Rubik’s Cubes can be solved in 30 or less moves.
Kyle Miller, an Otterbein sophomore studying computer science and mathematics, has a personal record of solving a Rubik’s Cube in 7 seconds and used to compete in national Rubik’s Cube competitions. In addition to being a Rubik’s Cube whiz, Miller is active on campus as an Orientation Leader, a member of the band, and a member of the Gamma Omicron chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity.
We caught up with Kyle Miller to ask him about speed-cubing!
How did you first get into solving Rubik’s Cubes?
I had a friend, who was also named Kyle, bring one to school with the ability to solve it. I then became determined to be faster than him, so I practiced for months. When I got back after summer, he no longer cared about the hobby, but I had become obsessed with the puzzles and kept solving.
How long did it take you to master solving a cube?
Initially, it took probably around two weeks to consistently solve it, but to get fast probably around two years of consistency.
What was it like to attend and compete in national Rubik’s Cube competitions?
Exhausting! It’s absolutely exhausting. It’s three to four days of constant wrist movement and by the end I could barely hold a pencil. Although it’s tiring, the events are surprisingly social. You spend all day solving and meeting people with similar interests. Around 700-1,000 people attend nationals annually, so you’re bound to meet people. Most mornings I’d just sit at a random table of strangers and leave with a table of friends come the night.
What is something that others would be surprised to know about this skill?
It has very little to do with math. Most people who solve Rubik’s Cubes on a high level end up with interests in math and engineering by pure coincidence. It is entirely an algorithm application. So, instead of intuitively solving the puzzle, I look at where the pieces are and administer an algorithm to do what I want. These algorithms are sequences of moves that I memorize that move pieces around. I probably have around 300 algorithms memorized for a standard Rubik’s Cube now, and although I’d love to keep learning, it’s a bit too time consuming to do with college happening concurrently.
How many Rubik’s Cubes do you have? What is the largest size?
I easily have upwards of 200 Rubik’s Cubes. The largest one I own is probably either the 10-by-10 or my Gigaminx. Both take around 30 minutes to an hour to solve.
For fun: We heard that you are one of Otterbein’s Scholar’s Day winners. What happened when you found out that you had won?
I was standing in a Joann Fabric store on senior skip day when I got the call that I won Scholars Day. For whatever reason, I didn’t believe the admissions counselor that I actually won, so I left a voicemail 20 minutes later asking if he was joking about it. Of course, he wasn’t, and I still get referenced to today in the Office of Admissions because I am “the kid who called back.”