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

### Famous quotes containing the word combination:

“Nature is an endless *combination* and repetition of a very few laws. She hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

“Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a *combination* of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilirating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!”

—Edna Ferber (1887–1968)

“By the “mud-sill” theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical *combination* of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a tread-mill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be—all the better for being blind, that he could not tread out of place, or kick understandingly.... Free labor insists on universal education.”

—Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)