The fastest way to solve this problem is by using the formula, 2^n, where n stands for the number of elements, or, in this case, the number of employees. This formula is derived from adding the number of combinations from
What’s important with this problem is not to treat it as a probability problem. While on the surface it may seem similar to a typical combinations problem, using the combinations formula to solve the problem is cumbersome.
Instead, use the formula, 2^n, where n stands for the number of elements, or, in this case, the number of employees.
This formula is derived from adding the number of combinations whenever you can select any number greater than zero and less than or equal to n. For instance, here we could have chosen any of three employees for the first office. So instead of using 3C0 + 3C1 + 3C2 + 3C3, we can use 2^3.
This formula becomes especially useful for larger numbers. Imagine the question were:
How many ways can 8 employees go in two offices?
(A) 8
(B) 32
(C) 48
(D) 64
(E) 120Following the method of finding each case would take too much time. By using 2^n, we 2^8 = 64. (D)
Going back to my original point: do not think of this as a typical probability problem, but one that uses the 2^n concept. The problems, while not really a probability problem, employ the 2^n formula.
Positive integer N is the product of three distinct primes. How many factors in N?Ans: 2^3 – 1 (zero is not a factor so hence we subtract one from 2^n).
A multiple-choice test has five possible answer choices. Any number of answers can be correct. (e.g. A-B-D is possible answer, C-D, or all five). How many different possible answers?Ans: 2^5 – 1 = 31 You can’t leave question blank (like the empty office) so therefore -1.
By understanding the concept behind a question, instead of grouping a question under one general category, you should be able to solve problems more quickly.
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