Calculating LEGO Brick Combinations Is Ridiculously Complex

Calculating LEGO Brick Combinations Is Ridiculously Complex

In 1958 LEGO estimated that six standard LEGO bricks could be combined together in nearly 103 million ways. Maths professor Soren Eilers discovered that they were off by more than 900 million.

In this clip from A LEGO Brickumentary, in theatres, iTunes and On Demand this Friday, the good professor explains why LEGO’s initial estimates were so far off. They were only taking into account six bricks stacked on top on each other in a tower configuration. What about laying four bricks side-by-side and connecting them across the top with the other two or other small, flat structures?

After theory failed, Professor Eilers created a computer program to help determine the actual number. After about a week of calculations, he came up with 915,104,765 calculations.

Today the same calculation takes only five minutes, but adding additional bricks ups the computing time exponentially. Seven bricks takes two hours. Eight took 20 days. Eilers estimates that calculating nine or ten bricks would take years, or even hundreds of years.

I’m looking forward to seeing what other small, brick-shaped nuggets of information I’ll learn once I catch the full movie. A Lego Brickumentary will be available in an easily calculable number of places this Friday.

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