8 Factorials and Combinations in a Spreadsheet

Brokk Toggerson

As stated in the introduction, we will be relying on spreadsheets to do all our computation in this class. I presume you have already become familiar with the basics of a spreadsheet in Appendices

Here will will show you how to compute factorials and combinations in a spreadsheet.


To do a factorial in Excel, you simply type


Where the leading = tells the spreadsheet to that this is a formula whose value should be calculated and the “*” is whatever number you want to take the factorial of. For example, if you want to calculate 170! (the largest number that google sheets will take the factorial of!), then you would type


And the sheet will return 7.25742E+306.


What if you want to calculate a combination? For example, what if you have 3 items to spread over 5 bins, _5 C_3? You use the COMBIN function:


This will calculate _5 C_3 = \frac{5!}{(5-3!)3!} = 10.



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