Rule of Product

The Rule of Product goes by other names such as the Multiplication Principle or Sequential Rule. It is a multiplication based rule one follows in certain counting procedures.

“The rule of product states that if an action can be performed by making \(A\) choices followed by \(B\) choices, then it can be performed \(AB\) ways” (Benjamin, 2009).

In other words suppose there exists a set of \(A\) choices and a set \(B\) choices, multiplying \(AB\) will be the number of ways to do \(A\) and \(B\). As a side note, notice the word “and”, this can often be a queue word for situations were one might find need for The Rule of Product.

Independence of a sets is also required when The Rule of Product is in play. That simply means that a set \(A\) and set \(B\) from earlier are completely separate.

Moreover, this rule extends to any number of sets. Meaning if we have a set \(A\), \(B\), \(C\), and \(D\) they can still be multiplied \(ABCD\).

So lets look at a simple example.

Say there is a 3 dial combination lock where each dial is completely separate and each contain the numbers 0 through 9. How many possible combinations can be made between the first, second, and third dials?