The American Institute of Physics has just sent me a press release, whose subject line I have borrowed for the title of this post. The release discusses the mathematics of an upcoming college basketball tournament:
Mathematicians who study problems like these use combinatorics which helps them determine exactly how many possible outcomes there could be. Starting with 64 teams with two possible outcomes for each team - a win or a loss - the number of possible outcomes for the tournament is a staggering 2 to the power of 64: that is, 2 multiplied by itself 64 times, or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 possibilities.
Not being much of a sports fan, I hadn’t realized exactly how basketball tournaments work. Now that I understand, I find it cheering. I’m going to root for the outcome in which all 64 teams win.