# What’s the Difference Between Permutation and Combination: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you the type of person who loves puzzles and brain teasers? If you are, then chances are, you’ve come across the terms permutation and combination at some point. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they actually have distinct meanings and applications.

Permutation refers to the number of ways in which a set of objects can be arranged. For example, if you have five different colors and you want to arrange them from left to right, there are 120 different permutations. Combination, on the other hand, refers to the number of ways in which a subset of objects can be selected from a larger set without regard to order. For instance, if you have five colors and you want to choose two of them, there are just 10 possible combinations.

Understanding the difference between permutation and combination is crucial in a variety of fields, from mathematics to computer science. Although they may seem similar at first glance, knowing which one to use in a given situation is key to arriving at the correct solution. So whether you’re a puzzle enthusiast or a seasoned professional, keep in mind the important distinction between permutation and combination.

## Fundamental principles of counting

Permutation and combination are two concepts in mathematics that allow us to calculate the number of ways in which we can select and arrange objects or events. Before we dive into the differences between these two concepts, it is necessary to understand the fundamental principles of counting.

The fundamental principle of counting provides the basis for understanding permutations and combinations. It states that if there are n ways to perform one task and m ways to perform another task, then the total number of ways to perform both tasks is n x m. In simple terms, this principle emphasizes the multiplication rule of counting.

For example, if we want to find out the number of ways we can dress up for an event and we have 3 shirts and 2 pants, we can use the multiplicative principle of counting to calculate the total number of outfits we can create. The number of ways to select a shirt is 3 and the number of ways to select a pant is 2, thus the total number of ways we can dress up for the event is 3 x 2 = 6.

## Fundamental principles of counting

• The multiplication rule of counting states that if there are n ways to perform one task and m ways to perform another task, then the total number of ways to perform both tasks is n x m.
• The addition rule of counting states that if there are n ways to perform one task and m ways to perform another task, then the total number of ways to perform one or both tasks is n + m.
• The principle of inclusion-exclusion enables us to find the number of outcomes that satisfy at least one of two or more conditions, or both.

## Fundamental principles of counting

The addition rule of counting is useful when the tasks are mutually exclusive, i.e. they cannot occur simultaneously. In such cases, we use the addition principle to find the total number of outcomes. For example, consider a person who plays two games of soccer with different teams. The total number of ways they can play both games is the sum of the number of ways they can play in each game.

The principle of inclusion-exclusion is useful when we want to find the number of outcomes that satisfy at least one of two or more conditions, or both. For example, consider a group of people who like to watch movies. The number of people who like action movies is 20, the number of people who like romantic movies is 30, and the number of people who like both types of movies is 10. To find the total number of people who like at least one of the two types of movies, we use the principle of inclusion-exclusion and subtract the number of people who like both types of movies from the sum of the two groups, thus 20 + 30 – 10 = 40.

## Fundamental principles of counting

The principle of permutations is used to calculate the number of ways in which objects can be arranged in a specific order. The formula for permutation is n!/(n-r)!, where n is the total number of objects and r is the number of objects to be arranged.

Number of Objects Number of Arrangements (r=3)
3 6
4 24
5 60

The principle of combinations is used to calculate the number of ways in which objects can be selected without considering their order. The formula for combination is n!/r!(n-r)!, where n is the total number of objects and r is the number of objects to be selected.

## Permutation definition

Permutation is a mathematical concept that is used to determine the number of ways that a set of objects can be arranged or ordered. In simpler terms, it is the number of distinct arrangements that can be made from a collection of items without repetition. It is denoted by the symbol “nPr” and is defined as:

nPr = n! / (n – r)!

Where n is the total number of objects in the set and r is the number of objects that we want to arrange in a specific order. The exclamation mark (!) denotes the factorial function and means to multiply all the positive integers up to the number represented by the factorial symbol. For example, 5! = 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 120.

## The difference between permutation and combination

• Permutation involves the arrangement or ordering of objects, whereas combination only considers the selection of objects without regard to their order.
• The formula for permutation includes the factorial function and a subtraction, whereas the formula for combination includes only a division operation.
• The notation for permutation is “nPr”, while the notation for combination is “nCr”.

## Examples of permutation

Let’s say we have 4 different colored balls – red, blue, green, and yellow – and we want to find out how many different ways we can arrange them in a line if we use all the balls. Using the permutation formula, we can calculate the number of permutations as:

4P4 = 4! / (4 – 4)! = 4! / 0! = 24

This means that there are 24 different ways we can arrange the 4 colored balls in a line without repetition.

## Permutation with repetition

In some cases, we may need to find the number of permutations with repetition allowed, which means that we are allowed to repeat an object in a particular arrangement. For example, let’s say we have the letters “A”, “B”, and “C”, and we want to find out how many different arrangements we can make with two letters using repetition. In this case, we can use the following formula:

n r Formula
3 2 3^2 = 9

This means that there are 9 different arrangements that we can make with two letters “A”, “B”, and “C”, with repetition allowed.

## Explanation of Combination

Combination is a mathematical concept that deals with the number of ways to choose a subset from a larger set, irrespective of the order in which they are chosen. In other words, combination means selecting items or people from a group in such a way that the order of selection does not matter.

Let’s take an example to understand this better. Suppose there are 10 people in a room, and we want to select a group of 3 people to form a committee. We can count the number of ways to do this using combinations.

• First, we select any 3 people from the group of 10. This can be done in 10 choose 3 ways, which is equal to 120.
• Secondly, we can choose any 3 people from the remaining 7, which can be done in 7 choose 3 ways, which is equal to 35.
• Finally, we can choose any 3 people from the remaining 4, which can be done in 4 choose 3 ways, which is equal to 4.

Thus, the total number of ways to select a committee of 3 people from a group of 10 is:

Step Number of ways
Step 1 120
Step 2 35
Step 3 4
Total 1680

Therefore, there are 1680 ways to form a committee of 3 people from a group of 10, without considering the order in which they are chosen.

Combination is denoted by n choose r, where n is the number of items in the larger set, and r is the number of items to be selected. The formula for combination is:

n choose r = n! / (r! * (n-r)!), where n! represents the factorial of n, or the product of all positive integers up to n.

Combination has several real-life applications, such as in probability, statistics, and computer science.

## The formula for permutation

Permutation is a concept in mathematics that deals with the arrangement of objects in a particular order. The formula for permutation is used to calculate the number of possible arrangements of a set of objects. The formula is:

nPr = n! / (n-r)!

Where n is the total number of objects and r is the number of objects selected for the arrangement. The exclamation mark (!) represents the factorial function, which means the product of all positive integers up to that number. For example, 5! equals 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1, which is 120.

• The formula for permutation is applicable when the order of objects is important.
• nPr is the number of permutations of n objects taken r at a time.
• The permutation formula assumes that there are no repetitions of objects.

Let’s take an example to understand this better. Suppose you have 5 different books on a shelf, and you want to arrange them in a particular order on the shelf. The number of possible arrangements can be calculated using the permutation formula as:

nPr = n! / (n-r)! = 5! / (5-5)! = 120

This means that there are 120 different ways in which you can arrange the 5 books on the shelf.

Permutation Formula Variables Explanation
n The total number of objects
r The number of objects selected for arrangement

Therefore, the permutation formula is an important tool to calculate the number of possible arrangements of a set of objects in which the order matters. It is widely used in various fields, including statistics, probability theory, and computer science.

## Formula for Combination

The combination is another fundamental concept in combinatorics. In contrast to permutation, combination is a selection of objects without considering their order. For example, if you’re picking three cards from a deck of cards, the order in which you pick them doesn’t matter. The combination formula is as follows:

• Order doesn’t matter
• n = number of objects
• r = number of objects chosen
• n choose r = nCr = n! / r!(n-r)!

The combination formula is identical to the permutation formula except that you divide by r!(n-r)! to eliminate repetitions caused by ordering. In other words, the combination formula is the permutation formula divided by r!.

Let’s take the same example we used for permutations before: You’re trying to figure out how many different combinations of 2 books you can select from a bookshelf of 6 books. Using the combination formula, we have:

n = 6, r = 2

nCr = 6C2 = 6! / (2! x (6-2)!) = 15

So there are 15 different combinations of 2 books that you can select from a bookshelf of 6 books.

n r nCr
4 0 1
4 1 4
4 2 6
4 3 4
4 4 1

You can also use a combination calculator to compute the number of combinations quickly and easily.

## Practical applications of permutations and combinations

Permutations and combinations are mathematical concepts that are used in a wide range of fields, including statistics, probability theory, computer science, and genetics. In this section, we will explore some practical applications of permutations and combinations.

• Combinatorics in probability: Combinatorics is an essential tool in probability theory. For example, if you were to toss a coin three times, the number of possible outcomes is eight. We can use combinations to determine the probability of getting a specific outcome. In this case, the probability of getting two heads and one tail is 3/8.
• Genetics: Combinatorics has broad applications in genetics. For instance, the number of possible genotypes that can be passed from parent to offspring can be calculated using the multiplication rule of counting. The Punnett square, which is used to determine the probability of offspring with specific traits from the parents’ genotype, is also based on combinatorics.
• Network theory: Permutations and combinations come in handy in network theory when determining the number of possible routes. For instance, you may have to determine how many different routes you can take between two points on a network. Combinations are also essential when determining the number of subsets in a graph.

In addition to the examples mentioned above, permutations and combinations also find applications in cryptography, game theory, data mining, and more.

## Permutations vs. Combinations

While permutations and combinations may seem similar, there are fundamental differences. A permutation is an ordered arrangement of objects, whereas a combination is an unordered grouping of objects. The following table illustrates the differences between permutations and combinations:

Permutations Combinations
Order Important Not important
Repetitions Not allowed Allowed
Formula n!/(n-r)! n!/(r!(n-r)!)

Therefore, when dealing with a situation where the order is important, use permutations, and where the order is not important, use combinations.

## How to Solve Permutation and Combination Problems

If you are working on permutation and combination problems, it is essential to understand the difference between the two concepts. Permutation refers to the arrangement of objects or items in a particular order, while the combination refers to the selection of objects or items without regard to the order in which they are selected.

Before solving permutation and combination problems, you should also understand the basic formulas used in calculating permutations and combinations. The formulas are:

• Permutation Formula: nPr = n!/(n-r)!
• Combination Formula: nCr = n!/(r!(n-r)!)

Where n is the total number of items, r is the number of items to be selected, and ! denotes factorial.

Here are some tips on how to solve permutation and combination problems:

• Identify if Order Matters: If you are arranging items in a particular order, you are dealing with permutations. On the other hand, if the order does not matter, you are dealing with combinations.
• Identify the Total Number of Items and the Number of Items to be Selected: Once you have identified if order matters or not, you need to determine the total number of items and the number of items to be selected.
• Decide Whether You Need to Use Permutation or Combination Formula: If order matters, use the permutation formula. If order does not matter, use the combination formula.
• Plug Into the Formula: Once you have identified which formula to use, plug in the values in the formula and solve for the answer.
• Be Mindful of Repetition: When dealing with permutations, it is essential to consider whether there are repetitions in the items. For instance, if you have three items A, B, and C, and you choose two items, AB and BA are considered different permutations because order matters. However, if you have three items A, A, and B, choosing two items could only result in AA and AB because choosing AA twice is redundant.
• Practice: As with any mathematical concept, practice is critical in mastering permutation and combination problems. Take the time to work on different problems to improve your skills.

## Example Table for Permutation

Let’s say you need to find the number of ways to arrange four students in a line for a class photo. This problem involves permutations because order matters. To find the number of permutations, you can use the permutation formula:

n r nPr = n!/(n-r)!
4 4 4!/(4-4)! = 4!/0! = 4x3x2x1 = 24

There are 24 ways to arrange the four students in a line for the class photo.

## What’s the difference between permutation and combination?

### FAQs

• What is permutation?
• Permutation is the arrangement of objects in a particular order. It is the number of ways to select and arrange objects without repetition and where order matters.

• What is combination?
• Combination is the selection of objects in a particular group without specific arrangement. It is the number of ways to select and group objects without repetition and where order does not matter.

• What is the difference between permutation and combination?
• The main difference between permutation and combination is that permutation deals with the order of objects while combination does not.

• When should I use permutation?
• Permutation is useful when you want to know the total number of ways that objects can be arranged.

• When should I use combination?
• Combination is useful when you want to know the total number of ways that objects can be grouped.

### Closing Thoughts

Now that you know the difference between permutation and combination, you can use these concepts to solve a variety of problems. It’s important to remember that permutation deals with the order of objects, while combination does not. Thanks for reading and be sure to visit again for more useful information!