nhaa123 nhaa123 - 10 months ago 41
C++ Question

Calculating the Amount of Combinations


I know you can get the amount of combinations with the following formula (without repetition and order is not important):

// Choose r from n

n! / r!(n - r)!

However, I don't know how to implement this in C++, since for instance with

n = 52

n! = 8,0658175170943878571660636856404e+67

the number gets way too big even for
unsigned __int64
unsigned long long
). Is there some workaround to implement the formula without any third-party "bigint" -libraries?

Answer Source

Here's an ancient algorithm which is exact and doesn't overflow unless the result is to big for a long long

unsigned long long
choose(unsigned long long n, unsigned long long k) {
    if (k > n) {
        return 0;
    unsigned long long r = 1;
    for (unsigned long long d = 1; d <= k; ++d) {
        r *= n--;
        r /= d;
    return r;

This algorithm is also in Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming, 3rd Edition, Volume 2: Seminumerical Algorithms" I think.

UPDATE: There's a small possibility that the algorithm will overflow on the line:

r *= n--;

for very large n. A naive upper bound is sqrt(std::numeric_limits<long long>::max()) which means an n less than rougly 4,000,000,000.