Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Need help on this?

  1. Nov 9, 2007 #1
    need help on this???

    well guys i was doing some problems with series and i cam up with this problem, i think it belongs to combinatorics but i'll post it here.
    How is defined the permutations, combinations and variatons of negative numbers. For example if you were required to find the combinations of -2 elements taken from a set of n elements. TO me this makes no sens?????


    any help would be appreciated

    p.s. sorry for my latex, but i do not know how to write this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2007 #2

    Chris Hillman

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Zero. Or not

    The standard answer is zero, but if you simply plug a negative value for m (or a value exceeding n) into the formula
    \left( \begin{array}{c}n\\ m \end{array} \right) = \frac{n!}{m! \, (n-m)!}
    = \frac{n \, (n-1) \dots (n-m+1)}{ m \, (m-1) \, (m-2) \dots 1}
    you get nonsense. See this and this for some musings which should intrigue you!

    Try hitting "reply" and look at the LaTeX markup in the window.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2007
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook