Dr. Evar Nering’s passion for numbers has only grown stronger over a century of living.
The 101-year-old began his career as a young man at Princeton, earning his Ph.D. in mathematics. He later helped create an algorithm for linear programming that garnered five patents. He spent three decades teaching at Arizona State University, building its math program and chairing the department for eight years.
Obviously, Nering has a lot of experience with equations, theorems and statistics. But his most pressing challenge is the one he is facing now: How to share his algorithm for solving the Rubik’s Cube.
Most people abandon the frustrating 3D puzzle within a few minutes. But not Nering. He was so intrigued that he set out to create a mathematical formula that anyone could use.
“I’ve seen videos of people working the Rubik’s Cube super fast, but I can’t tell what’s happening,” the Scottsdale resident chuckled. “I’m not about speed or competing. At my age, I just want to give my algorithm to the world — as my legacy.”
As soon as Nering’s Hospice of the Valley care team heard about his dream, they wanted to help.
“Even at 101, he is very mentally alert and loves to talk about math,” said social worker Alanna Ambos. “We decided to connect him with someone who shares that same joy.”
So Ambos and nurse Bonnie Lazzeri teamed with Nering’s daughter and caregiver to reach out to a math professor at Gateway Community College. JW Gaberdiel agreed to visit Nering to learn about his formula.
“Evar’s algorithm is for any cube size and that’s part of its power,” Gaberdiel said. “His approach is symmetric and beautiful, but not necessarily fast. That is also its charm. There’s something elegant about it.”
The men spent two hours together, chatting about Nering’s life, career and dream to help all of us conquer the Rubik's Cube.
“I like the challenge of solving problems,” Nering admitted. “And getting my algorithm out there in the public domain is just one more thing to figure out.”
In the meantime, he’s sharing it with us. Visit bit.ly/3LS3pzB to read it for yourself.
Lin Sue Flood is the director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley.