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When distributing these bullets, each burglar must at least have three bullets, but no more than eight.

I have tried solving this with generating functions, but I am stuck at this part where I am not sure what type of "trick" to use to continue on..

My work (incomplete):

The generating function for this problem is $$f(x) = (x^3 + x^4 + ....+ x^8)^4$$ where we seek the coefficient of

$$x^(24)$$

$$=(x^3+x^4...+x^8)^4$$ $$=x^(12)( 1 + x+ x^2 + x^3 +x^4 +x^5)^4$$

and using the identities we get that the coefficient of x^12 is

(1-x^6)^4 * (1 - x)^-4

this of course is equal to :

[1-4C1(x^6) + 4C2(x^12) - 4C3(x^18) + x^23] * [-4C0 + -4C1(-x) +.......]

At this point I am totally stuck because this is a huge expansion... and the answer is 125. Is there a method I can use to quickly arrive at the answer or do I have to expand everything in?

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    $\begingroup$ Are the burglars being armed with these bullets or being shot by them? $\endgroup$ – user856 Jan 31 '15 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ If the latter, then I think this would be considered pre-meditation. $\endgroup$ – PepperSausage Jan 31 '15 at 22:45
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First, give each burglar $3$ bullets. Then you end up distributing $12$ bullets to $4$ burglars such that no burglar has more than $5$. Think about the four distinguishable burglars as boxes labelled $1,2,3,4$ and the bullets as balls.

Then you have to count the number of nonnegative solutions to $x_1+x_2+x_3+x_4=12$ where $x_i\leqslant 5$. This is the coefficient of $x^{12}$ in $(1+x+x^2+x^3+x^4+x^5)^{4}$. Write this as $$f(x)=(1-x^6)^{4}(1-x)^{-4}$$

Now $$(1-x^6)^{4}=\sum_{\nu\geqslant 0}\binom{4}\nu (-1)^\nu x^{6\nu}=\sum_{\nu\geqslant 0}\binom{4}{\nu/6}(-1)^{\nu/6}[6\mid \nu]x^{\nu}=\sum_{\nu\geqslant 0}a_\nu x^\nu $$

$$(1-x)^{-4}=\sum_{\nu\geqslant 0}\binom{\nu+3}\nu x^{\nu}=\sum_{\nu\geqslant 0}b_\nu x^\nu$$

Then you want $$[x^{12}]f(x)=\sum_{\nu+\mu=12}a_\nu b_\nu=\sum_{\nu+\mu=12}\binom{\nu+3}\nu \binom{4}{\mu/6}(-1)^{\mu/6}[6\mid \mu]\\= \binom{15}{12}\binom 40-\binom 96\binom41+\binom 30\binom 42=125$$

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