Bina Venkataraman tells the interesting story of Jessica Fridrich, who as a Czech teenager in 1981 developed the fastest algorithm for solving the Rubik’s cube. It’s one of those stories that takes you to briefly into the world of the fanatics who quest for sub-ten-second times. But there’s a broader story, of the mind of a person who would solve the puzzle before ever handling one.
After earning her masters degree, she was building mathematical models of rock deformation at a mining institute when she was recruited by a professor from Binghamton who heard about her mastery of the cube and her grades at the Czech Technical University in Prague. After a brief meeting in which she described her cube algorithms, he asked her to apply for the doctoral program in systems sciences. She had no rsum, so she dashed one off on a typewriter just before the professors train left the station. A year later, she arrived in Binghamton, where she has lived ever since.
Well, I’d recruit that one, too.