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Adventures in Group Theory: Rubik's Cube, Merlin's Machine and Other Mathematical Toys

David Joyner
Publisher: 
Johns Hopkins
Publication Date: 
2008
Number of Pages: 
310
Format: 
Paperback
Edition: 
2
Price: 
27.50
ISBN: 
9780801890130
Category: 
Textbook
BLL Rating: 

The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
Donald L. Vestal
, on
06/8/2009
]

This is the second edition of David Joyner’s Adventures in Group Theory. I reviewed (and loved) the first edition, most notably the analysis of the group structure of the 3x3 Rubik’s cube.

So what about the second edition? The original text is all here: an introduction to some of the basics of group theory and its application to “permutation puzzles” like the Rubik’s Cube. What’s new is the addition of material concerning the computer algebra system SAGE. This system is used to enhance some of the exploration of the algebra in this book. The SAGE software is available for free in multiple formats. It is relatively easy to download, and (once you get used to the syntax) provides an opportunity to use a computer to study complicated algebraic structures.

So, once again: if you like puzzles, this is a somewhat fun book. If you like algebra, this is a fun book. If you like puzzles and algebra, this is a really fun book.


Donald L. Vestal is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at South Dakota State University. His interests include number theory, combinatorics, spending time with his family, and working on his hot sauce collection. He can be reached at Donald.Vestal(AT)sdstate.edu.


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