Few things reveal the limits of someone's problem-solving skills faster than a Rubik's Cube, the multicolored, three-dimensional puzzle that has befuddled so many since the 1970s. Though the cube has furrowed countless human brows over the years, it's not much of a challenge for an emerging group of hyper-intelligent machines, as it turns out. This week, the University of California at Irvine announced that an artificial intelligence system solved the puzzle in just over a second, besting the current human world record by more than two seconds. The system, known as DeepCubeA -- a reinforcement-learning algorithm programmed by UCI computer scientists and mathematicians -- solved the puzzle without prior knowledge of the game or coaching from its human handlers, according to the university. The feat is even more impressive considering that there are billions of potential moves available to a Rubik's Cube player, with the puzzle's six sides and nine sections, but only one goal: each of the cube's six sides displaying a solid color.
Researchers have developed an AI algorithm which can solve a Rubik's cube in a fraction of a second, according to a study published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence. The system, known as DeepCubeA, uses a form of machine learning which teaches itself how to play in order to crack the puzzle without being specifically coached by humans. "Artificial intelligence can defeat the world's best human chess and Go players, but some of the more difficult puzzles, such as the Rubik's Cube, had not been solved by computers, so we thought they were open for AI approaches," Pierre Baldi, one of the developers of the algorithm and computer scientist from the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement. According to Baldi, the latest development could herald a new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) deep-learning systems which are more advanced than those used in commercially available applications such as Siri and Alexa. "These systems are not really intelligent; they're brittle, and you can easily break or fool them," Baldi said.
Since its invention by a Hungarian architect in 1974, the Rubik's Cube has furrowed the brows of many who have tried to solve it, but the 3-D logic puzzle is no match for an artificial intelligence system created by researchers at the University of California, Irvine. DeepCubeA, a deep reinforcement learning algorithm programmed by UCI computer scientists and mathematicians, can find the solution in a fraction of a second, without any specific domain knowledge or in-game coaching from humans. This is no simple task considering that the cube has completion paths numbering in the billions but only one goal state--each of six sides displaying a solid color--which apparently can't be found through random moves. For a study published today in Nature Machine Intelligence, the researchers demonstrated that DeepCubeA solved 100 percent of all test configurations, finding the shortest path to the goal state about 60 percent of the time. The algorithm also works on other combinatorial games such as the sliding tile puzzle, Lights Out and Sokoban.
The human record for solving a Rubik's Cube has been smashed by an artificial intelligence. The bot, called DeepCubeA, completed the popular puzzle in a fraction of a second - much faster than the quickest humans. While algorithms have previously been developed specifically to solve the Rubik's Cube, this is the first time it has done without any specific domain knowledge or in-game coaching from humans. It brings researchers a step closer to creating an advanced AI system that can think like a human. "The solution to the Rubik's Cube involves more symbolic, mathematical and abstract thinking," said senior author Professor Pierre Baldi, a computer scientist at the University of California, Irvine.
The Rubik's Cube is a three-dimensional puzzle developed in 1974 by the Hungarian inventor Erno Rubik, the object being to align all squares of the same color on the same face of the cube. It became an international best-selling toy and sold over 350 million units. The puzzle has also attracted considerable interest from computer scientists and mathematicians. One question that has intrigued them is the smallest number of moves needed to solve it from any position. The answer, proved in 2014, turns out to be 26.