GMAT Factorial Introduction
Factorials and divisibility, together. Two mathematical kids from opposite sides of the tracks, they come together and fall in love and they create this problem. Here we’re asked what numbers might divide some new number 20 factorial plus 17. As a refresher, a factorial is simply the number times each integer below it. So in this case, 20! is equal to 20 x 19 x 18 …. x 3 x 2 x 1. It’s a huge number. And it’s not at all possible to process in GMAT time. What we want to notice about any factorial is that it has as factors every number that it contains. So 20! is divisible by 17, it’s divisible by 15, it’s divisible by 13, 9, 2, what have you and any combination of them as well.
What The GMAT is Counting On You Not Knowing
When we’re adding the 17 though, the GMAT is counting on the idea that we don’t know what to do with it and in fact that’s the entire difficulty of this problem. So I want you to imagine 20! as a level and we’re going to take a look at this graphically. So 20! can be comprised by stacking a whole bunch of 15’s up. Blocks of 15. How many will there be? Well 20 x 19 x 18 x 17 x 16 x 14 times all the way down the line. There will be that many 15’s. But 20! will be divisible by 15. Similarly, by 17, by 19, by any number. They will all stack and they all stack up precisely to 20! because 20! is divisible by any of them.
So when we’re adding 17 to our number all we need to see is that, hey, 15 doesn’t go into 17, it’s not going to get all the way up there. 17 fits perfectly. 19? guess what? It’s too big and we’re going to have a remainder. So our answer here is B, only 17.
For other problems like this, other factorials, and what have you, please check out the links below and we will see you next time. If you enjoyed this GMAT problem, try your hand at this Science Fair Problem.