Why the factorial of 0 is 1

The factorial of a number is the total number of ways in which a set of that many objects can be arranged. See, wasn’t that simple? Let’s try and understand what exactly it’s supposed to mean with the help of mathematics.

First, we’ll have to set some rules (guidelines for how we’re to go about it) because keeping it vague allows a lot of room for misinterpretation. Besides, the beauty of mathematics lies in its precision.

Letter it out…

Luci,

I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’ve never liked the concept of letter writing. Whenever I had the choice to avoid it, I took it. The rules always seemed made up. Not one person has been able to offer me a justification as to why formal letters required an attempt at flattery. I thought language was invented to simplify communication; using unpopular words, exclusively for a certain class of people, seems illogical. I don’t know if there ever existed a governing body that determined the “official” pattern for written messages, but if it did, I’m glad to have seen this particular “art form” to its grave. Of course, my objection to written letters could’ve been partly influenced by my excitement for email.

If the sun didn’t rise…

I’ve never been one of those who set alarms for their mornings to come. I’ve noticed I sleep a greater duration when I force myself awake than when I wake naturally. For many months now, the candidate at the front end, of the queue of stimuli for this natural awakening, was the position of the sun relative to the horizontal. Let me translate that last one for the non-geek: ‘The sun wakes me up.’

Don’t just listen to your elders…

My life has, in its entirety, been a process of constantly updating a list of instructions to follow so as to have a better… life. I mean, yes, I’ve had a childhood, an adolescence, early adulthood and, just like everyone, picking the best of them is nerve-wracking even to me. Still, the one thing, that hasn’t changed throughout all of these periods of my life, is the inflow of instructions.

These instructions kept piling over the years, and for a very long time there were not as many to really impede my way of living. Life was too smooth a ride for me to notice the kinks. I made it through each chapter unscathed. My life was full of cherishable moments. But it all suddenly disappeared one day – for all I know, a random quantum fluctuation that triggered a train of thought – the day I realised that none of it is real. That was the day I broke free of the massive self-mind-control we were inflicting upon everyone and ourselves. In essence, we are all trapped in an illusion. That was the day I started to see everything – past and present – more analytically.

Skewed samples…

I’m an engineer. I don’t know if I’m being honest to myself when I say that. All my life, I’ve believed that an engineer was someone who built things, after few long years of rigorous study. As it turns out, the part about building is inconsequential to the title. Still, I like to consider myself apart from the herd. I’m pretty sure I’ve already applied more of my knowledge, gained on record, than most of my colleagues.