Having done a number of calculations on maximal distances I thought about
getting at newer pastures. The Magic Domino. The results follow in the
next mailing, this post discusses a bit about the information found there.
I added to the next mail also the previous results for the 2x2x2 and the
corners of the 3x3x3 together with some additional results not presented
previously. There are for each puzzle five columns. The first one
enumerates the number of moves, the next two give the results if both
quarter and half turns are accepted as moves, the last two give the
information if only quarter turns are accepted (of course, on the Domino
this distinction is there only for the U and D faces, the others know
half turns only). For each case there are two columns, the first giving the
number of positions requiring the stated number of moves, the second
column gives the number of local maxima (i.e. each move brings you closer
to a solution).
There are three tables for the Domino. The one you want to pick depends
on how you view the puzzle. The first view is that there is only one
solution with on top 1 to 3 running from left back to right back. The
second view is that rotation of the puzzle makes different configurations
indistinguishable, so the total number of configuration is (8!)^2 / 4.
An alternative way to look at it is that there are 4 solutions. One the
standard solution, the others obtained by rotating the domino along the
UD axis. The distinction between the two views is only a factor of four
in the number of configurations for the different path-lengths. Finally,
we can view as a solution the configuration with on top 1 to 3 running from
right back to left back in stead of the other way around. Actually this
solution is not worse than the other, because, if we turn over a solved
Domino we go from one to the other. This view can also be expressed by saying
there are 8 solutions. I give results for all three cases. The numbers upto
(and including) path-length 2 have been checked by hand.
Some remarkable observations.
When we compare the tables for 1 solution and those for 4 solutions we see
that for short path-lengths the number of configurations is multiplied by
4. On the other hand, for long path-lengths the number of configurations
is equal! We can say that rotation of the Domino has only a short range
On the other hand, if we compare both with the 8-solutions tables we see that
the latter allows shorter solutions in general, so mirroring has a long
Each of the 6 calculations on the Magic Domino took 2 to 2.5 hours on one
processor of an SGI 4D-420S. The program is completely memory bound (and
the cache does not help). It needs at least 31 MByte of core (and must be
resident) otherwise you will get no results at all in reasonable time. I
tried it on the 32 MByte FPS; while it will happily give results initially
at some stage it will not longer run. Not only that it will not walk either,
and also not crawl. It is just sitting there paging in and paging out (a
phenomenon known as page thrashing). I found that the program would get
less than 0.005 % of the CPU on an otherwise unloaded machine.
The program would enable me to write a 27901440 byte file that would assist
in an optimal solver for the Domino.