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Fundamental Counting Principle

The Fundamental Counting Principle is a cornerstone concept for understanding how to calculate the number of ways tasks can be completed when broken into sequential stages, emphasizing multiplication as the method for combining choices across stages.
  • The principle is based on the idea that if a task can be divided into stages, the total number of ways to complete the task is the product of the number of choices available at each stage.
  • Examples provided include calculating the number of possible meals from a set menu and the number of ways books can be arranged on a shelf, illustrating the principle's application in different scenarios.
  • The principle extends to arranging n distinct items in order, where the total number of arrangements is the product of n and every positive integer less than n, a concept that will be formalized with the introduction of factorials.
  • A practice problem involving the selection of a company's steering committee demonstrates how quickly numbers can grow in combinatorial problems, highlighting the practical importance of the principle.
  • The principle underscores that the order of choices matters in calculating combinations, a foundational concept in combinatorics and essential for GRE preparation.
Introduction to the Fundamental Counting Principle
Applying the Principle to Real-World Scenarios
Extending the Principle to Arrangements
Practice Problem: Steering Committee Selection

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