# Complements in the symmetric group

About 20 years ago I was asked a question of Herbert Kociemba, a computer scientist who has one of the best Rubik’s cube solving programs known. Efficient methods of storing permutations in $S_E$ and $S_V$ (the groups of all permutations of the edges $E$ and vertices $V$, respectively, of the Rubik’s cube) are needed, hence leading naturally to the concept of the complement of $S_m$ in $S_n$. Specifically, he asked if $S_8$ has a complement in $S_{12}$ (this terminology is defined below). The answer is,
as we shall see, ”no.” Nonetheless, it turns out to be possible to introduce a slightly more general notion of a “$k$-tuple of complementary subgroups” (defined below) for which the answer to the analogous question is ”yes.”

This post is a very short summary of a paper I wrote (still unpublished) which can be downloaded here.