# Month: December 2018

## Which is Always a Natural Number?

(A new question of the week) I want to look at a question that came in recently that is, in one sense, very simple, but at the same time is quite challenging. It was given to a 12-year-old whose father asked us about it, and requires some skill in thinking about non-routine problems. Here is …

## How Many Different Meals Are Possible?

(An archive question of the week) While gathering combinatorics questions, there were several that stood out. This one will serve well to summarize the topic, showing multiple methods for counting, and contrasting other kinds of problems. The problem The question, from 2007, relates to an Arby’s promotion: How Many Different Dinners Can Be Ordered? I …

## Stars and Bars: Counting Ways to Distribute Items

We have been looking at ways to count possibilities (combinatorics), including a couple ways to model a problem using blanks to fill in. Today, we’ll consider a special model called Stars and Bars, which can be particularly useful in certain problems, and yields a couple useful formulas. (I only remember the method, not the formulas.) …