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Re: permutations?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg46492] Re: permutations?
  • From: Paul Abbott <paul at>
  • Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2004 06:53:40 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: The University of Western Australia
  • References: <c11sc1$n64$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <c11sc1$n64$1 at>,
 sean_incali at (sean kim) wrote:

> let's say you have...
> a, b, c, d, e   and...
> a', b', c', d', e'
> what are the possible combination will go from a( or a' ) to e ( or
> e')
> so that you get...
> {a b c d e}, {a b c d e'}, {a b c d' e}, {a b c d' e'}, {a b c' d e},
> { a b c' d' e}, {a, b, c' d e'}, {a, b, c' d' e'} on
> I have 32 from doing it the brute force way by hand.  how do i do that
> with Mathematica? 

There are, of course, many ways. If l1 and l2 are your two (equal 
length) lists then

  Flatten /@ Distribute[{{#[[1]]},{#[[2]]}} & /@ 
    Transpose[{l1, l2}], List, List]

does the trick. I find Distribute rather subtle and expect that there 
might be a better way to do this using Distribute.

Another way that computes all the lists (using Boolean logic) is

  List @@@ List @@ LogicalExpand[ And @@ Or @@@ (l1 + l2)]

However, this does not preserve the ordering you want and an application 
of Sort is required.

A third way is to recognise the "binary" nature of your problem: the 
position of the changing element corresponds to the binary sequence 0, 
1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, etc.

  With[{n = Length[l1]}, (l2 # + (1 - #) l1 & ) /@      
    (PadLeft[IntegerDigits[#, 2], n] & ) /@ Range[0, 2^n - 1]]

> also... what kinda problem is described above? 

Well, how did _you_ encounter the problem? Often this will suggest a 
good approach to solving it.

You might find "Computational Recreations in Mathematica" by Ilan Vardi 


Paul Abbott                                   Phone: +61 8 9380 2734
School of Physics, M013                         Fax: +61 8 9380 1014
The University of Western Australia      (CRICOS Provider No 00126G)         
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Crawley WA 6009                      mailto:paul at 

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