Permutation vs Combination: Understanding the Fundamental Differences

Permutation vs Combination: Understanding the Fundamental Differences

Permutation and combination are two mathematical methods applied to determine the number of scenarios in which we can variety items as well as which items are taken in cataloging from a given set without permutation. While they both target at this, the underlying principles of both languages are disparate to some extent.

Permutation: Arrangements with Order

Permutation refers to a process of the objects’ arrangement in a particular sequence. The order in which these trigrams are arranged is crucial in permutations. As an illustration, if there are three objects mixed up i.e. A, B, and C, then the orders of choosing two objects out of the three would consist in AB, BA, AC, CA, BC, and CB.

Combination: Selections without Order

In grouping together objects does not require an individual to consider the order of their selection, whereas in combination the order of objects is taken into account but it does not matter which objects have been chosen. No matter whether in a single element form or in groups, the configuration of elements shall have no consequence. Unlike the permutations that have all the objects, the combinations have all the objects except the objects that were chosen only once. This results in combinations such as AB, AC and BC without regards to the sequence of the letters.

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Permutation vs Combination: Key Differences

The distinctive difference between permutation and combination is the presence or lack of being order, which is considered important. Permutation is analla which is to say taking into account the sequence of arrangement where combination is without any conditions like this. One more essential distinction is that arrangements that repetition may come in with permutation but not with combination

Examples Illustrating Permutation vs Combination

Let’s consider a scenario where we have a set of four letters: In this privacy policy, I outline A, B, C, and D.

  • Permutation Example:
    In addition if we want to have 3 letters together respecting the order, the sequence of permutation would be ABC, ABD, ACD, BAC, BAD, BCD, CAB, CAD, CBD, DAB, DAC and DCB.
  • Combination Example:
    Identifying only two letters without considering the order would lead to combinations with these seven letters: AB, AC, AD, BC, BD, CD, and DD.

Step-by-Step Solved Examples:

Let’s solve a few permutation and combination problems step by step:

  • Permutation Example: Problem: How many different ways can the letters in the word “MISSISSIPPI” be arranged?

Solution: Given word: MISSISSIPPI Total letters = 11 (M-1, I-4, S-4, P-2) Using the permutation formula for arrangements of n objects taken r at a time:


 Number of arrangements =



Thus, there are 39,916,800 different ways to arrange the letters in the word “MISSISSIPPI”.


  • Combination Example: Problem: In a group of 8 people, how many different combinations of 3 can be selected?

Solution: Given: Total people (n) = 8, Selections (r) = 3 Using the combination formula:


 Number of combinations =




Thus, there are 56 different combinations of 3 people that can be selected from a group of 8.


Briefly, we can state that permutation and combination are the main ideas of mathematics that differ themselves with specific rules and uses. It is very important, in order to stay away from some of the issues in areas as probability, statistics and cryptography, to be able to distinguish the different features of these. One brings up the ability of arranging things in different ways, not just in one way, through the understanding of permutation and combination.

FAQs on properties in math

Indeed, they are usually part of the mechanism to establish expressions for permutations and combinations of selections in various disciplines such as probability, statistics, and cryptography.

Yes, permutation and combination have specific formulas: P(n,r)=n!(nr)!and C(n,r)=n!r!(nr)! respectively.

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