This is a long overdue re-explanation of the Japanese frob. Hoey
and Saxe at CMU gave several comments and suggestions.
PART I -- Try again ===================
Take a hollow cylinder (like a doubly unlidded coffe can), cut it
open and unravel it. We now have something like
b | where the cut was made along the x
o t and top and bottom are where the
t o lids used to be
The supporting structure corresponds roughly to the lids of the
LL " ' "" ' " RR LLLLLL" B ' B "" B ' B " B RRRRRR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " B ' B "" B ' B " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LLLLLL" B ' B "" B ' B " B RRRRRR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " B ' B "" B ' B " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR LLLLLL" B ' B "" B ' B " B RRRRRR LL " ' "" ' " RR LL " ' "" ' " RR
(In the three dimensional case, the top and bottom of this
picture are connected together.)
L is the left part of the supporting structure, and R is the
right. They are firmly connected to each other, and are therefore
fixed in space with respect to each other. They are really
circular, but this is a view of the outside. B are the balls. The
balls can move left or right by being PLUNGED. The only allowed
plunge in the above diagram is to move the supporting structure
to the left (or equivalently the barrel to the right). With
respect to the barrel, only the balls in the first, third and
fifth rows (refered to as columns in previous message) are
affected. The diagram would now look like
LLL B B B B B RRR L B B B B R LLL B B B B B RRR L B B B B R LLL B B B B B RRR
Balls move vertically by by moving either of the two " ' "
sections vertically, and the balls within that section stay fixed
in space with respect to each other and the section, but not
fixed with respect to the other balls (within the context of one
turn) or the supporting structure.
Thus the moves are:
PLUNGE RIGHT or LEFT, whichever is appropriate
(or move barrel LEFT or RIGHT)
and MOVE LEFT or RIGHT section UP or DOWN
My suggestion was that in the between move state, the barrel was
centered in the plungers, so the PLUNGE move is HALF-PLUNGE LEFT
or RIGHT (both of which are apporpriate), then do the vertical
move, then UN-HALF-PLUNGE.
PART II -- Hoey's comments to my original message ================================================= [Hoey 28 March 1981 1500-EST]
Is the move you designate by
| | A A A A A \ \ A A A A / / A A A A A \ \ A A A A / / A A A A A | | really the permutation that takes | | | | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 4 5 \ \ \ \ 6 7 8 9 10 11 8 9 / / / / 10 11 12 13 14 to 15 16 12 13 14 \ \ \ \ 15 16 17 18 19 20 17 18 / / / / 19 20 21 22 23 1 2 21 22 23 | | | | ? Do you mean to imply that moves of the form | | | | X X X X X X X X X X \ \ / / X X X X X X X X \ \ \ \ X X X X X or X X X X X / / / / X X X X X X X X / / \ \ X X X X X X X X X X | | | | (whatever they mean) are prohibited (as primitives, at least) by the construction of the barrel?
[Both answers are YES]
PART III -- Comments later that night ===================================== [In response to the updated description Hoey 20 March 1981 1836-EST]
First, it should be made clear that in (either) plunged
position, the two " ' " sections rotate freely; i. e. it is not
necessary to plunge in between. For instance, one could solve by
counting plunges, but not rotations. Jim suggested that it might
be "neater theoretically", but I think it smells of the half-twist
Second, the inclusion of permutation diagrams will make the
puzzle clear to anyone who doesn't understand the mechanics.
Something like I gave in the last message, but with all
permutations given, the note that "\|/" are only comments, and the
description of the goal: move Black to 5,14,23, and make the sets
1-4, 6-9, 10-13, 15-18, and 19-22 each a solid color.
I ran this through the Furst/Hopcroft/Luks algorithm, and
found that in the Supergroup (all balls distinct) you get the
alternating group on 23 balls: all even permutations. Thus if any
two balls are indistinguishable, you can get all configurations.
Saxe remarks that there is only fourfold symmetry: Reflection
left-to-right and up-to-down. Their composition is in fact
achievable: turn the whole puzzle upside down, while continuing to
face the front of it. Strangely enough, this is an ODD permutation:
it takes you to the other orbit!
[Hoey 28 March 1981 2143-EST Subject: Simpler and harder toy]
Try taping the center two rings together. Thus A is
always performed with C, and B with D. The same set of
permutations is achievable!
[I assume the proof is an enumeration of states by the above
PART IV -- Developments by Alan Bawden (ALAN@MC), Allan Wechsler (ACW@AI) and myself. ================================================================
Alan Bawden sat down patiently one night (Tuesday March 31 1981,
I think) and discovered the necessary TOOL (or concept)
(singular !!) that is needed to solve the toy. I will not give a
spoiler here. Getting most of it is rather easy. The last few
balls take a little extra work. Alan told me the concept, and the
next day I successully solved it. Alan solved it later that day,
and soon Allan Wechsler solved it a few days later (signified by
his yelp to this mailing list). The three of us solve it slightly
differently (s)o like the cube, there are personal sovling
styles). We now solve it reliably, including the last few balls.