# Are these two expressions for sums of binomial coefficients valid?

These two appear in my module (without any proof):

$$\sum_{r = 1}^{n} C(n-2,r-2) = 2^{n-1}$$

$$\sum_{r = 0}^{n-1} C(n-2,r) = 2^{n-2}$$

For the first one when when $r=1 \Rightarrow C(n-2,1-2) = C(n-2,-1)$ ?!The same thing for $r=n-1$ in the second one,are they valid if yes,please explain how?

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Are those binomial coefficients? – J. M. Dec 11 '10 at 15:12
Yes.Yes.Yes.Yes. – Quixotic Dec 11 '10 at 15:14
If those are indeed binomial coefficients, the RHS for both ought to be $2^{n-2}$. In any event, the binomial theorem is of use here. – J. M. Dec 11 '10 at 15:15
Nopes in my module it's given that only the second is $n-2$. – Quixotic Dec 11 '10 at 15:16
Let's take the case $n=3$ as an example. The first summation claims that $C(1,-1)+C(1,0)+C(1,1) = 2^2$. Conventionally $C(1,-1)$ is zero, so the claim is incorrect. Similarly the second summation claims $C(1,0)+C(1,1)+C(1,2) = 2^2$, and since $C(1,2)$ is zero by convention, is similarly incorrect. Perhaps something was omitted in the text? – hardmath Dec 11 '10 at 15:26

Hint: Use the binomial expansion for $(1+x)^{n-2}$ and choose an appropriate value for $x$. Binomial coefficients with a negative value of $r$ are zero. You should see what the LHS ought to be.

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The LHS is same as I mentioned that's creating some confusion in my mind. – Quixotic Dec 11 '10 at 15:21
@Debanjan: No, I meant what the LHS should equal as a power of $2$. – Timothy Wagner Dec 11 '10 at 15:22
Got it thanks Timothy! – Quixotic Dec 11 '10 at 15:31

In addition to the calculation implied by Timothy's answer, let me describe a way to see it directly. Consider $\sum_{r=0}^{n-1}C(n-2,r)$. This is the sum of

(the number of ways of choosing a subset of $0$ elements out of a set of $n-2$ elements)

+ (the number of ways of choosing a subset of $1$ element out of a set of $n-2$ elements)

+ (the number of ways of choosing a subset of $2$ elements out of a set of $n-2$ elements)

. . . + (the number of ways of choosing a subset of $n-1$ elements out of a set of $n-2$ elements)

Since any subset of $n-2$ elements has either 0, 1, 2, . . . , or $n-2$ elements, the total is just the number of ways of choosing any subset of $n-2$ elements. And this is just $2^{n-2}$.

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