In mathematics a **combination** is a way of selecting several things out of a larger group, where (unlike permutations) order does not matter. In smaller cases it is possible to count the number of combinations. For example given three fruit, say an apple, orange and pear, there are three combinations of two that can be drawn from this set: an apple and a pear; an apple and an orange; or a pear and an orange. More formally a *k*-**combination** of a set *S* is a subset of *k* distinct elements of *S*. If the set has *n* elements the number of *k*-combinations is equal to the binomial coefficient

which can be written using factorials as whenever, and which is zero when . The set of all *k*-combinations of a set *S* is sometimes denoted by .

Combinations can refer to the combination of *n* things taken *k* at a time without or with repetitions. In the above example repetitions were not allowed. If however it was possible to have two of any one kind of fruit there would be 3 more combinations: one with two apples, one with two oranges, and one with two pears.

With large sets, it becomes necessary to use more sophisticated mathematics to find the number of combinations. For example, a poker hand can be described as a 5-combination (*k* = 5) of cards from a 52 card deck (*n* = 52). The 5 cards of the hand are all distinct, and the order of cards in the hand does not matter. There are 2,598,960 such combinations, and the chance of drawing any one hand at random is 1 / 2,598,960.

Read more about Combination: Number of *k*-combinations, Number of Combinations With Repetition, Number of *k*-combinations For All *k*, Probability: Sampling A Random Combination

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### Famous quotes containing the word combination:

“I am opposed to writing about the private lives of living authors and psychoanalyzing them while they are alive. Criticism is getting all mixed up with a *combination* of the Junior F.B.I.- men, discards from Freud and Jung and a sort of Columnist peep- hole and missing laundry list school.... Every young English professor sees gold in them dirty sheets now. Imagine what they can do with the soiled sheets of four legal beds by the same writer and you can see why their tongues are slavering.”

—Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)

“[N]o *combination* of dictator countries of Europe and Asia will halt us in the path we see ahead for ourselves and for democracy.... The people of the United States ... reject the doctrine of appeasement.”

—Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945)

“So of the three methods: reason, sense, or a knowing *combination* of both, the last seems the least like a winner, the second problematic; only the first has some slim chance of succeeding through sheer perversity, which is possibly the only way to succeed at all.”

—John Ashbery (b. 1927)