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A company that ships boxes to a total of 12 distribution [#permalink]
16 Jun 2010, 08:23

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Question Stats:

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34% (01:05) wrong based on 365 sessions

A company that ships boxes to a total of 12 distribution centers uses color coding to identify each center. If either a single color or a pair of two different colors is chosen to represent each center and if each center is uniquely represented by that choice of one or two colors, what is the minimum number of colors needed for the coding? (assume that the order of colors in a pair does not matter)

Re: need help to solve math question [#permalink]
16 Jun 2010, 09:20

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This post received KUDOS

Expert's post

chintzzz wrote:

A company that ships boxes to a total of 12 distribution centers uses color coding to identify each center. If either a single color or a pair of two different colors is chosen to represent each center and if each center is uniquely represented by that choice of one or two colors, what is the minimum number of colors needed for the coding? (assume that the order of colors in a pair does not matter) A)4 B)5 C)6 D)12 E)24

You can solve by trial and error or use algebra.

Let # of colors needed be \(n\), then it must be true that \(n+C^2_n\geq{12}\) (\(C^2_n\) - # of ways to choose the pair of different colors from \(n\) colors when order doesn't matter) --> \(n+\frac{n(n-1)}{2}\geq{12}\) --> \(2n+n(n-1)\geq{24}\) --> \(n(n+1)\geq{24}\) --> as \(n\) is an integer (it represents # of colors) \(n\geq{5}\) --> \(n_{min}=5\).

A company that ships boxes to a total of 12 distribution centers uses color coding to identify each center. If either a single color or a pair of two different colors is chosen to represent each center and if each center is uniquely represented by that choice of one or two colors, what is the minimum number of colors needed for the coding? (Assume that the order of the colors in a pair does not matter.) (A) 4 (B) 5 (C) 6 (D) 12 (E) 24 _________________

Re: A company that ships boxes to a total of 12 distribution [#permalink]
27 Sep 2013, 04:04

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Re: A company that ships boxes to a total of 12 distribution [#permalink]
18 Feb 2015, 21:24

Expert's post

Hi gmathopeful90,

The "restrictions" in the question are what dictate the math.

Consider these possible scenarios:

1) You have 5 different colors to choose from and two different rooms to paint. You can use the same color in both rooms. How many different color combinations are there for the two rooms?

Here, the first room could be 5 different colors and the second room could be 5 different colors, so (5)(5) = 5^2 = 25 options.

2) You have 5 different colors to choose from and two different rooms to paint. You CANNOT use the same color in both rooms. How many different color combinations are there for the two rooms?

Here, the first room could be 5 different colors; once you assign that first color, the second room could only be 4 different colors, so (5)(4) = 20 options.

3) You have 5 different colors to choose from. How many different 1-color and 2-color codes can you form with the following restrictions: the 2-color codes must use 2 DIFFERENT colors and the order of the colors does not matter (so blue-green is the SAME code as green-blue)?

Here, you start with the 5 different 1-color codes, then 5c2 different 2-color codes = 5 + 10 = 15 codes.

Re: A company that ships boxes to a total of 12 distribution [#permalink]
19 Feb 2015, 13:24

Expert's post

Hi gmathopeful90,

You've hit on THE key difference between Permutation and Combination questions: does the order MATTER or not.

IF you're putting things in order (the word "arrange" or "arrangements" often shows up in these types of questions), then you have to keep track of the number of options at each "step" and standard multiplication is involved.

IF you're picking combinations of things (the word "combination" is the common word in these questions), then the order of the items does NOT matter and you have to use the Combination Formula.

One of the interesting "design elements" of Official GMAT questions is that you can use either of the above approaches on certain types of prompts - you just have to be careful about how you set up the math (and you have to be really organized with your work).

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