Permutations And Combinations Formulas

In mathematics, permutation refers to the arrangement of all the members of a set in some order or sequence, while combination does not regard the order as a parameter. It is just a way of selecting items from a set or collection.
Permutation Formula: A permutation is the arrangements of r things from a set of n things without replacement. Order matters in the permutation.
Combination Formula: A combination is the choice of r things from a set of n things without replacement. The order does not matter in combination.

  • Number of permutations of n different things taking r at a time is nPr.

Let us assume that there are r boxes and each of them can hold one thing. There will be as many permutations as there are ways of filling in vacant boxes by n objects.
No. of ways the first box can be filled: n
No. of ways the second box can be filled: (– 1)
No. of ways the third box can be filled: (– 2)
No. of ways the fourth box can be filled: (– 3)
No. of ways rth box can be filled: (– (– 1))
Therefore, no. of ways of filling in boxes in succession can be given by:
(– 1) (– 2) (n-3) . . . (– (– 1))
This can be written as:
(– 1) (– 2) … (– + 1)
The no. of permutations of different objects taken at a time, where 0 < r ≤ and the objects do not repeat is:
(n – 1) (n – 2) (n – 3) . . . (n – + 1).
⇒   nPr = n ( n – 1) ( n – 2)( n – 3). . .( n – r + 1)
Multiplying and divided by (– r) (– – 1) . . . 3 × 2 × 1, we get
\(nP_{r}=\frac{[n(n-1)(n-2)(n-3)…(n-r+1)(n-r)(n-r-1)..3\times 2\times 1]}{(n-r)(n-r-1)..3\times 2\times 1}=\frac{n!}{(n-r)!}\)
Where 0 < r ≤ n

  • Number of combinations of n distinct things taking r at a time is  nCr.

No. of ways to select the first object from n distinct objects: n ways
No. of ways to select the second object from (n-1) distinct objects: (n-1) ways
No. of ways to select the third object from (n-2) distinct objects: (n-2) ways
No. of ways to select the fourth object from (n-3) distinct objects: (n-3) ways
No. of ways to select rth object from (n-(r-1)) distinct objects: (n-(r-1)) ways
Completing selection r things of the original set of n things creates an ordered sub-set of r elements.
∴ The number of ways to make a selection of r elements of the original set of elements is (– 1) (– 2) (n-3) . . . (– (– 1)) or (– 1) (– 2) … (– + 1)
Let us consider the ordered sub-set of r elements and all its permutations. The total number of all permutations of this sub-set is equal to r!  because objects in every combination can be rearranged in r! ways.
Hence, the total number of permutations of different things taken at a time is nCr ×r! On the other hand, it is nPr.
\(nP_{r}=nC_{r}\times r!\)
Permutations and Combinations in Real Life
Permutations and combinations are techniques which help us to answer the questions or determine the number of different ways of arranging and selecting objects without actually listing them in real life. For example, when you have to arrange people, pick a team captain, pick two favorite colors, in order, from a color brochure, or selection of menu, food, clothes, subjects, team, etc.

Solved Examples

Questions 1: Evaluate

  1. 12P2
  2. 10C3


  1. Here, n = 12 and r = 2

\(12P_{2}=\frac{12!}{(12-2)!} = 132\)

  1. Here, n = 10 and r = 3

Questions 2: Teacher asks a student to choose 6 items from the table. If the table has 20 items to choose, how many ways could the students choose the things?
Solution: Here, the student has to choose 6 items from 20 items.
Here, r= 6 and n= 20
\(20C_{6}=\frac{20!}{(20-6)!6!} = 38760\)

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