Factorial – Meaning, Definition With Examples

Welcome to the enchanting world of mathematics at Brighterly! Here, we make learning exciting and engaging for young minds, empowering them to grasp complex mathematical concepts with ease and enjoyment. One of those fascinating concepts is the “Factorial,” a mathematical function that multiplies numbers in a sequence, weaving a tapestry of numerical possibilities. From its notations to its applications, the concept of factorial reveals endless avenues of exploration, creating opportunities for problem-solving, creativity, and logical thinking. Join us at Brighterly as we delve into the meaning, definition, and examples of factorials, and unravel a subject that is as fun as it is profound. Let’s get started on this mathematical adventure!

What Is the Factorial?

Factorial, often denoted by the symbol “!”, is a function applied to non-negative integers. When you see a number followed by an exclamation mark, it means that you multiply that number by every positive whole number less than itself. The factorial of 0 is specially defined as 1. This concept is essential in fields such as permutation, combinations, and other mathematical analysis. It’s like building a tower of numbers, each floor multiplying the one below!

Definition of Factorial

The factorial of a non-negative integer is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to . Mathematically, it is defined as:


For example, the factorial of 5 (denoted as 5!) is 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 120.

Understanding the Symbol and Notation

The symbol “!” might seem strange, but it’s the hallmark of factorials. When you see 4!, you know to multiply 4 × 3 × 2 × 1. It’s like a secret code in the world of mathematics! This notation was introduced by the famous French mathematician Christian Kramp in 1808. It helps to simplify expressions and provides a concise way to represent complex products.

Properties of Factorials

  • Multiplicative Property: Factorials grow very quickly, and their values can be large even for small numbers.
  • Recursive Property: You can find by multiplying by .
  • Predefined Values: 0! is defined as 1, and 1! is 1.
  • Division: n!/( is a critical expression in combinations.

Understanding these properties can be a big help when solving mathematical problems involving factorials.

Examples of Factorials

  • 3! = 3 × 2 × 1 = 6
  • 6! = 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 720
  • 0! = 1 (by definition)

These examples demonstrate how the factorial function behaves and how quickly it can grow.

Difference Between Factorials and Other Mathematical Concepts

Factorials may seem similar to exponential growth, but they’re quite distinct. While exponential functions grow faster, factorial growth is unique due to the multiplication of descending integers. Understanding the difference between factorials and other mathematical concepts like powers and logarithms is essential in mastering higher-level math.


Factorials are not just numbers and symbols; they are a gateway to a world of mathematical wonder, exploration, and discovery. At Brighterly, we believe that mathematics is a language that tells fascinating stories, and the tale of factorials is one that resonates with curious minds of all ages. By understanding factorials, you unlock the door to permutations, combinations, series, and many other complex concepts. Whether you’re a parent, educator, or a young learner, we hope this comprehensive guide has ignited a passion for mathematics and illuminated the intriguing world of factorials. Remember, the journey with Brighterly doesn’t end here; it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of learning, questioning, and growing.

Frequently Asked Questions on Factorials

What is 0 factorial?

Zero factorial, denoted as 0!, is uniquely defined as 1. This definition might seem surprising, but it’s essential for mathematical consistency, particularly in combinatorial contexts.

Why are factorials used?

Factorials are fundamental in various mathematical fields. They’re used to calculate permutations (arrangements of objects) and combinations (selections of objects), making them vital in probability and statistics. Factorials also appear in calculus, physics, and computer science algorithms. They’re a versatile tool that helps us understand and model different mathematical phenomena.

How does factorial grow?

Factorials grow very quickly. Even for small numbers, the values can become enormous. For example, 5! is 120, but 10! is 3,628,800. This rapid growth makes factorials an intriguing subject in mathematics, especially in analyzing algorithms and computational efficiency.

Can you have a factorial of a negative number?

Factorials are typically defined only for non-negative integers. The concept of factorial for negative numbers doesn’t hold in the usual sense. However, there’s an advanced mathematical function called the Gamma function that extends the concept of factorials to complex numbers, excluding negative integers.

Is there a connection between factorials and real-life applications?

Absolutely! Factorials are used in real-life scenarios like project planning, resource allocation, probability predictions, statistical modeling, and more. From planning seating arrangements at events to predicting outcomes in sports and finance, the applications of factorials extend far and wide, transcending the boundaries of the classroom and making them a valuable concept to explore with Brighterly.

Information Sources
  1. Wikipedia – Factorial
  2. MathWorld – Factorial
  3. Government Educational Site – Factorial Functions

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