   SEARCH HOME Math Central Quandaries & Queries  Question from Lamont, a parent: If I have 10 marbles: 3 blue, 2 yellow, 1 purple, and 4 red How many ways can I pull out 3 different sets of marbles? Is this a permutation or a combination? Hi Lamont,

I am going to assume that the problem says "How many ways can I pull out 3 marbles?" If this is not the way the problem is worded please let me know.

The distinction between permutations and combinations is whether order is important. So for example if the marbles were labeled 1 to 10 would the selection of marbles 1, 3 and then 7 give the same result as the selection of marbles 3, 7 and then 1? If this is true then you are dealing with permutations. Order is not mentioned in the question so I don't see order as important and hence you are dealing with combinations.

You might also look at the responses Khadija and Marcy received to similar questions.

Penny     Math Central is supported by the University of Regina and The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences.