# Help with basic binomial coefficient

• Catbird
In summary, if n is a positive integer at most equal to m, then{m \choose n}+{m\choose n-1}={m+1 \choose n}
Catbird
< Mentor Note -- thread moved to HH from the technical math forums, so no HH Template is shown >

Hello. I'm currently working my way through Lang's Basic Mathematics and cannot make sense of this question:

Show that if n is a positive integer at most equal to m, then

$${m \choose n}+{m\choose n-1}={m+1 \choose n}$$

__

The answer in the textbook is given as:

1. $${m \choose n}+{m\choose n-1}={m! \over n!(m-n)!}+{m! \over (m-n+1)!(n-1)}$$

[common denominator n!(m — n + 1)!]

2. $$= {m!(m-n+1)+m!n\over n!(m-n+1)!}$$
__

I omitted the rest of the answer as I understand what follows from 2.

However I don't understand how to get such denominator from 1.

Last edited by a moderator:
I moved your thread to our homework section, as it is homework-like.

In (1), you can write n! as n(n-1)! and (m-n+1)! as (m-n+1)(m-n)!. Afterwards the fractions should be easy to add with the usual methods.

Thank you for the quick reply. This makes sense!

mfb said:
I moved your thread to our homework section, as it is homework-like.

In (1), you can write n! as n(n-1)! and (m-n+1)! as (m-n+1)(m-n)!. Afterwards the fractions should be easy to add with the usual methods.

Hello, I came here looking for the same help for the same question. Can you elaborate on your reply? Perhaps I'm too exhausted from my workplace.

Also, unrelated, I decided to self [URL='https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/self-study-basic-high-school-mathematics/']study mathematics[/URL] after many years of wanting to do so. I am rejuvenating my understanding of the basics as I only studied up to high school Calculus many moons ago. Is there a forum on this site or elsewhere for people like me? I only really see self study tips on Quora and such. Thanks.

Which part is unclear?
Jmm1984 said:
I am rejuvenating my understanding of the basics as I only studied up to high school Calculus many moons ago. Is there a forum on this site or elsewhere for people like me?
We have a couple of mathematics sub-forums, I'm not sure what exactly you are looking for.

Jmm1984, ask a question in the academic guidance section and you'll get some recommendations how to get back into learning math.

Jmm1984 said:
Hello, I came here looking for the same help for the same question. Can you elaborate on your reply? Perhaps I'm too exhausted from my workplace.

Sometimes it helps to work backwards with these things. Start from:

##{m!(m-n+1)+m!n\over n!(m-n+1)!}##

And see whether you can get to:

##{m! \over n!(m-n)!}+{m! \over (m-n+1)!(n-1)}##

Catbird said:
:

1. $${m \choose n}+{m\choose n-1}={m! \over n!(m-n)!}+{m! \over (m-n+1)!(n-1)}$$

!

PeroK said:
Sometimes it helps to work backwards with these things. Start from:

##{m!(m-n+1)+m!n\over n!(m-n+1)!}##

And see whether you can get to:

##{m! \over n!(m-n)!}+{m! \over (m-n+1)!(n-1)}##

I'm still not understanding something correctly after many tries. Outside of the basic concept of a factorial, I've never had worked something like this out, so perhaps there is a concept that I am not familiar with?

Jmm1984 said:
I'm still not understanding something correctly after many tries. Outside of the basic concept of a factorial, I've never had worked something like this out, so perhaps there is a concept that I am not familiar with?

Trying to get the numerators and denominators to conform to these solutions are coming up unsuccessfull and convoluted, which makes me think I'm missing something altogether.

Jmm1984 said:
I'm still not understanding something correctly after many tries. Outside of the basic concept of a factorial, I've never had worked something like this out, so perhaps there is a concept that I am not familiar with?

##(n+1)! = (n+1)(n!)##?

##\frac{ab}{ac} = \frac{b}{c}##?

##\frac{a+b}{c} = \frac{a}{c} + \frac{b}{c}##?

Last edited:
PeroK said:
##(n+1)! = n(n!)##?
That should be ##(n+1)! = (n+1)(n!)##

mfb said:
That should be ##(n+1)! = (n+1)(n!)##
Very true!

Jmm1984 said:
Trying to get the numerators and denominators to conform to these solutions are coming up unsuccessfull and convoluted, which makes me think I'm missing something altogether.

If you have ##{a \over 12} + {b \over 52}##, you have to find the lcm of 12 and 52. That is 156. Do you recall how to do that? That's what they are doing from step 1-2.

verty said:
If you have ##{a \over 12} + {b \over 52}##, you have to find the lcm of 12 and 52. That is 156. Do you recall how to do that? That's what they are doing from step 1-2.
I'm definitely familiar with the concept of lowest common denominator.
However, I did not realize that:
(n+1)!=(n+1)(n!)

Is this a rule of factorials? Perhaps I missed this in Lang's book from which I'm studying.

PeroK said:
Very true!
I was not familiar with this. I will look into seeing if this helps me.
I suppose part of me is frustrated that I'm not understanding something at the beginning of a Basic Mathematics text. Looking more forward to reviewing more as I approach where I ended in high school with calculus, and then on from there.
I appreciate all the help you all are giving. It is very encouraging.

Jmm1984 said:
Is this a rule of factorials?
It can be used as their definition together with 0!=1, or it follows immediately from the definition.
n! = n(n-1)(n-2)(n-3)...1
therefore:
(n+1)! = (n+1)n(n-1)(n-2)(n-3)...1 = (n+1)n!

Jmm1984 said:
I'm definitely familiar with the concept of lowest common denominator.
However, I did not realize that:
(n+1)!=(n+1)(n!)

Is this a rule of factorials? Perhaps I missed this in Lang's book from which I'm studying.

It follows right away from the definition of the factorial.

More generally, for integer ##0 < k < n## we have ##n! = n(n-1)(n-2) \cdots (n-k+1)\, (n-k)!,## and that leads to another formula for the binomial:
$${n \choose k} = \frac{n (n-1) \cdots (n-k+1)}{k!} \hspace{4em}(1)$$
Eq. (1) is used to define ##{n \choose k}## for integer ##k \geq 0## but non-integer ##n##. For example, we sometimes have to deal with things like ##{-2 \choose k}## or ##{ 1/2 \choose k}## for positive integer ##k,## and we do that using eq. (1).

mfb said:
It can be used as their definition together with 0!=1, or it follows immediately from the definition.
n! = n(n-1)(n-2)(n-3)...1
therefore:
(n+1)! = (n+1)n(n-1)(n-2)(n-3)...1 = (n+1)n!
Thanks for the reply. I'll let this marinate.

Ray Vickson said:
It follows right away from the definition of the factorial.

More generally, for integer ##0 < k < n## we have ##n! = n(n-1)(n-2) \cdots (n-k+1)\, (n-k)!,## and that leads to another formula for the binomial:
$${n \choose k} = \frac{n (n-1) \cdots (n-k+1)}{k!} \hspace{4em}(1)$$
Eq. (1) is used to define ##{n \choose k}## for integer ##k \geq 0## but non-integer ##n##. For example, we sometimes have to deal with things like ##{-2 \choose k}## or ##{ 1/2 \choose k}## for positive integer ##k,## and we do that using eq. (1).

Thank you. I'll take a good look at this.

## 1. What is a binomial coefficient?

A binomial coefficient, also known as a combination, is a mathematical concept used to determine the number of ways to choose a subset of items from a larger set. It is denoted by "n choose k" and is calculated using the formula nCk = n! / (k!(n-k)!), where n is the total number of items and k is the number of items being chosen.

## 2. How is a binomial coefficient used in science?

In science, binomial coefficients are commonly used in probability and statistics to calculate the likelihood of certain events occurring. They are also used in fields such as genetics and physics to determine the number of possible outcomes in a given scenario.

## 3. What is the difference between a binomial coefficient and a factorial?

A factorial is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to a given number, denoted by an exclamation point (n!). A binomial coefficient, on the other hand, is a specific type of combination that is calculated using a factorial. For example, 5C3 is equal to 5! / (3!(5-3)!), which simplifies to 10.

## 4. Can binomial coefficients be negative?

No, binomial coefficients are defined as the number of ways to choose objects from a set, so they must always be positive integers. Negative numbers do not make sense in this context.

## 5. How can binomial coefficients be helpful in solving real-world problems?

Binomial coefficients can be used to determine the probability of certain events occurring, which can be useful in decision making and risk analysis. They can also be used to calculate possible outcomes in situations involving combinations or arrangements, such as in genetics or game theory.

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