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Homework Help: Counting strings

  1. Nov 4, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data Given that the ASCII character system has 128 possible characters how many 5 character strings are there with at least one occurence of the '@' symbol.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    So clearly which symbol we're using doesn't matter, and I see that the right answer comes from considering the total number of length 5 character strings minus the number of strings not containing the '@' character i.e. [tex]128^5-127^5[/tex].

    My real question is what is wrong with the reasoning that we have 5 choices for where to put the '@' symbol multiplied by the [tex]128^4[/tex] possible strings from the other 4 characters. I can see that [tex]128^5-127^5 \not= 5(128^4)[/tex], but I'm wondering where the flaw in the reasoning is
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2008 #2
    I think I've figured it out by considering a much smaller alphabet and character length. I was obviously overcounting, but now I see that I'm counting the strings with more than one instance of the character several times each.
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