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From my years browsing math.SE, I've come to learn there's always some useful--albeit obscure--identity for every conceivable sum of combinatoric functions.

Mine is as simple as they come: $$S(n,m)=\sum _{k=0} ^m {n \choose k}$$ for $m \leq n$.

That is, a partial sum of binomial coefficients. Practically: the number of ways one can choose a subset of $m$ or fewer objects out of a set of $n$ objects.

Apologies if this is already answered elsewhere, but a search for "sum of binomial coefficients" turns up hundreds of permutations (no pun intended) of the question, none of which seem to be relevant to this specific case.

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    $\begingroup$ I doubt there are nice closed-form expressions for those, as they are essentially unnormalized tails of a binomial distribution. However, there are some very tight bounds: look up Chernoff bounds for unbiased coin flips. $\endgroup$ – amakelov Apr 7 '17 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @amakelov: will do; thanks. $\endgroup$ – COTO Apr 7 '17 at 19:12
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$${n\choose n-m}{\mbox{$_2$F$_1$}(1,-m;\,1+n-m;\,-1)}$$

where $\mbox{$_2$F$_1$}$ is a hypergeometric function.

See also OEIS sequence A008949.

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  • $\begingroup$ I can't believe when users with 20.6K reputation are also not clear with answers. BTW, I have seen this problem before also. But never know the solution. $\endgroup$ – maverick Apr 7 '17 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ I linked to the Wikipedia page where there is an explanation. If you think more explanation is needed, please feel free to add your own answer. $\endgroup$ – Robert Israel Apr 7 '17 at 21:44

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