Factorials, Combinations and Permutations
One of the hardest parts of Statistics 1 can be an understanding of the distinction between the different types of ways of ordering and choosing objects
This page offers concise examples of the main types you will be expected to know and be able to use
Factorials |
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Suppose we want the total number of ways of arranging 1) How many ways can we arrange Answer: 2) If 15 people run a race, how many different ways of
arranging 1^{st} to 15^{th} are there? Answer: |
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Permutations |
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1) Suppose we have There are obviously quite a lot of options. If we call the
people A B C D E F G H I J three possible options out of many more include:
The first two options are different BECAUSE a different person
comes first and second The third option is different BECAUSE it used an entirely
different set of people 2) We have every letter of the alphabet on a tile. We pick out 4 at random and once a tile has been picked out it cannot be used again. How many different four letter random words can we write down? This is comparable to the problem above because writing down ACBD is different to ABCD Therefore the answer is Another way to think about is, we have 26 options for the first tile,
25 for the second, 24 for the third and 23 for the fourth tile so the number
of words equals |
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Combinations (arguably the most important one) |
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Choosing from a list of different items 1) Suppose I have 10 people in a room, again we will call them A B C D E F G H I J If we want the number of ways of choosing 5 people out of this group there are a lot less options than before. This is because choosing people ‘ABCDE’ is NOW THE SAME as ‘BACDE’. We do not care about the order of the people we pick – we only care about the end result of WHO WE HAVE PICKED. The total number of ways of choosing five people out of ten is Arranging TWO sets of identical items - BINOMIAL 1) Suppose I toss a coin ten times. How many ways of getting 4 heads and 6 tails are there? Some options include:
And so on…there are way too many to even begin to list them However, we have a total of 10 results. 4 are identical HEADS and 6 are identical TAILS. The total number of ways can be therefore found by working out either
2) There are 365 days in a year. How many different ways are there for it to be dry on 100 days of the year (which means not dry on 265 days of the year) The answer is either |
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Multiple combinations |
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I want to make a band of two drummers, three guitarists, 2 singers and a director. I have a pool of 10 drummers, 6 guitarists, 11 singers and 1 director from which to choose from We work out the number of ways of choosing each particular sub-group and multiply all the answers together. The total number of ways off arranging the band is therefore:
Applying to situations in probability |
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1) 30 books are placed onto a shelf. What is the probability they are placed in alphabetical order? Solution: There are a total of 2) 15 horses run a race. What is the probability of getting 1^{st},
2^{nd} and 3^{rd} place in the correct order? Solution 1: There are Solution 2: Multiply the probability of guessing 1^{st} place, then 2^{nd} place, then 3^{rd} place 3) Suppose we have the letters J A M E S on a set of tiles and we pick out 3 tiles: a) b) 4) If we have a spinner with two colours such that If we spin the spinner 20 times. |