A queen has 8 rooms and 12 indistinguishable mirrors, how many ways are there to hang these mirrors in 8 rooms such that every room has at least 1 mirror?

  • $\begingroup$ Are the mirrors distinguishable? $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2018 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know, this is the problem statement as is. The answer is 330, I'm trying to understand the logic. $\endgroup$
    – Coder-Man
    Oct 11, 2018 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, it's indistinguishable if 330 is the answer. $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2018 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


We have 12 mirrors, but 8 of them must be allocated so each room has at least 1. So all we care about is placing the remaining 4 mirrors in 8 rooms.

This is a perfect place to use stars and bars, since we have 4 mirrors to spread across 8 rooms. This leads us to find the total number of combinations as $${8+4-1\choose4} ={11\choose4} =\color{red}{330}$$

If you are confused as why $8+4-1\choose4$ is what we desire, imagine that the * are mirrors, and | dividers, which determine which room the mirrors fall into. Since there are 8 rooms, we have 7 dividers, i.e., we seek the number of distinct combinations of

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is even easier if you use the basic stars and bars. You put the $12$ mirrors in a row and can place four dividers between them. You can only place one divider between any pair of mirrors, so each room gets at least one. There are $11$ spaces for the four dividers, giving $11 \choose 4$ $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2018 at 20:37

Let the numbers of mirror in a room be $x_i$, where $x_i$ is a positive integer.

We need to find solutions for,


This can be seen as 12 stars and 7 bars.

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Now there are 11 gaps between 12 stars and you have 7 bars to place, where each bar separates number of mirrors in a room.

So the answer will be?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I do not understand why this answer received so many downvotes. $\binom{11}{7}=\binom{11}{4}$ and following this answer gives the same result as the other answer. $\endgroup$
    – JMoravitz
    Oct 11, 2018 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ Can I know the reason for the downvotes please? Is there something wrong with my answer ? $\endgroup$
    – prog_SAHIL
    Oct 13, 2018 at 12:33

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