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 never see that man without feeling that he is one to become personally attach’d to, for his *combination* of purest, heartiest tenderness, and native western form of manliness.”

—Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

“Hats have never at all been one of the vexing problems of my life, but, indifferent as I am, these render me speechless. I should think a well-taught and tasteful American milliner would go mad in England, and eventually hang herself with bolts of green and scarlet ribbon—the favorite colour *combination* in Liverpool.”

—Willa Cather (1876–1947)

“Never support two weaknesses at the same time. It’s your *combination* sinners—your lecherous liars and your miserly drunkards—who dishonor the vices and bring them into bad repute.”

—Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)