Problem 15 on Project Euler asks us to find the number of distinct routes between the top left and bottom right corners in a 20×20 grid, with no backtracking allowed.

I originally saw this type of problem tackled in the book Notes On Introductory Combinatorics, by George Polya amongst others. This book is hard to find now, but it is a really clear intro to combinatoric math.

The solution can be paraphrased as follows: if the grid is of size 20×20, and it takes 2 movements to navigate a single square in the grid, then we must make a total of 40 movements to get from the top right to the bottom left. Exactly half of these movements will be left-to-right, and the other half will be up-down. The total number of distinct routes is the number of ways that we can choose 20 of each type of move from the 40 total moves required. So we need the combinatoric construct n-choose-k, or how many ways k items can be selected from n total items. This is represented as \(n\choose k\).

In R, calculating \[{40\choose 20}\] is just:

`choose(40, 20)`