Bunuel wrote:

5. Mrs. Smith has been given film vouchers. Each voucher allows the holder to see a film without charge. She decides to distribute them among her four nephews so that each nephew gets at least two vouchers. How many vouchers has Mrs. Smith been given if there are 120 ways that she could distribute the vouchers?

(A) 13

(B) 14

(C) 15

(D) 16

(E) more than 16

Answer: C.

Clearly there are more than 8 vouchers as each of four can get at least 2. So, basically 120 ways vouchers can the distributed are the ways to distribute \(x-8\) vouchers, so that each can get from zero to \(x-8\) as at "least 2", or 2*4=8, we already booked. Let \(x-8\) be \(k\).

In how many ways we can distribute \(k\) identical things among 4 persons? Well there is a formula for this but it's better to understand the concept.

Let \(k=5\). And imagine we want to distribute 5 vouchers among 4 persons and each can get from zero to 5, (no restrictions).

Consider:

\(ttttt|||\)

We have 5 tickets (t) and 3 separators between them, to indicate who will get the tickets:

\(ttttt|||\)

Means that first nephew will get all the tickets,

\(|t|ttt|t\)

Means that first got 0, second 1, third 3, and fourth 1

And so on.

How many permutations (arrangements) of these symbols are possible? Total of 8 symbols (5+3=8), out of which 5 \(t\)'s and 3 \(|\)'s are identical, so \(\frac{8!}{5!3!}=56\). Basically it's the number of ways we can pick 3 separators out of 5+3=8: \(8C3\).

So, # of ways to distribute 5 tickets among 4 people is \((5+4-1)C(4-1)=8C3\).

For \(k\) it will be the same: # of ways to distribute \(k\) tickets among 4 persons (so that each can get from zero to \(k\)) would be \((K+4-1)C(4-1)=(k+3)C3=\frac{(k+3)!}{k!3!}=120\).

\((k+1)(k+2)(k+3)=3!*120=720\). --> \(k=7\). Plus the 8 tickets we booked earlier: \(x=k+8=7+8=15\).

Answer: C (15).

P.S. Direct formula:

The total number of ways of dividing n identical items among r persons, each one of whom, can receive 0,1,2 or more items is \(n+r-1C_{r-1}\).

The total number of ways of dividing n identical items among r persons, each one of whom receives at least one item is \(n-1C_{r-1}\).

Hope it helps.

-----------------------------

Hi Bunuel, Can you please help solve this problem directly using the formulas provided?

The total number of ways of dividing n identical items among r persons, each one of whom receives at least one item is n-1C_{r-1}.

Regards

Harish