How many ways are there to pick r objects from n objects when repetitions are allowed and either both the first and the second objects appear exactly once or both do not appear?

So here is what I tried and I'm not sure if it's correct.

If we have n bins and each bin is an object, and we choose each object once we will have r-n, but since the first and second object appear once or not at all we have r-(n-2)+-2, at least I think. So using

$n+k-1 \choose k$

I think I can get

$n+(r-(n-2)\pm2)-1 \choose k$

Is this correct? I dont think it is, but I'm not sure how else to go about this.


We can simply separate the $2$ cases:

1 and 2 element don't appear

This means that we must choose $r$ elements with repetition, from $n-2$ elements:


1 and 2 element appear one time

This time we have to select $r-2$ elements with repetition, from $n-2$ elements:


Since the two cases are disjoint, the result is the sum of them:


  • $\begingroup$ Sorry if the following is obvious, but I'm still a beginner. In the first case why is it (r-1) at the bottom and not just r? In the second case we are picking 1 and 2 once, and everything else can be picked with repetitions. I understand this, but I don't get how that translates to using r-2 and n-2, wouldn't n-2, make 1 and 2 not appear? $\endgroup$ – Brownie Apr 29 '19 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Brownie If you want to select $r$ objects from $n$ and the order doesn't matter and each object can be reapeted than the general formula is: ${{n+r-1}\choose{r-1}}$ or ${{n+r-1}\choose{n}}$ $\endgroup$ – Eureka Apr 29 '19 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Oh alright thanks! I wasn't using the general formula correctly. One last thing, so in the second case, you do r-2 because that's how man you are doing with repetition, and then you do n-2, because objects 1 and 2 aren't used. If I'm understanding this correct, when do you factor in the fact that they appear once? $\endgroup$ – Brownie Apr 29 '19 at 21:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Brownie since we fixed them and they don't appear anymore in the formula ($n-2$) they appear only $1$ time. $\endgroup$ – Eureka Apr 29 '19 at 21:37

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