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by Christopher J. Burke
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1740: How Many Lunches?
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Mr. Michael Keegan, Math Teacher

What? No appetizers or antipasto?

For those unable to read the fine print on the menu (sorry, but it had to shrink to fit), the questions asks, "How many combinations of a main course, a vegetable, a side and a dessert can be made from this menu?"

The Counting Principle tells us that the number of possible combinations of one item from each list is equal to the product of the number of items in each list. I did a video on this for a grad school class. When I showed it a several years later, my AP remarked that I looked the same. When I showed it in a different school three years later, my coteacher said, "Mr. Burke, you look so young!" I thnk that was meant as a compliment.

In this particular instance, however, there are 3 choices for a main course, despite what you think of the pizza or the tuna, 2 choices for a vegetable, which no one said had to taste good to be good for you, 4 desserts, and 3 beverages. According to the Counting Principle, that means that there are 3 * 2 * 4 * 3 = 72 choices.

If you found this page by googling a question on your state exam, please not that I altered the question to suit this comic. Your teacher may be expected a different answer than I have provided.

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