Permutations in Braiding Hair

As a mom of a girl child, I’m supposed know all about braiding hair. But I don’t. <cue dramatic bad mom music>

I know how to braid three basic strands of hair… mostly. But when I try the French braiding thing, K8’s hair looks like a feral goose nested in it overnight.

“There must be some way of knowing how much extra hair to pull in – and when!” I thought.

When trying to figure it out (mathematically, of course), I noticed that the strands of the braid weave to give all possible permutations of three things!

Check it out:

So we have all of these:

Is there more?

This makes me wonder what happens with four strands. Of course that kind of thinking will send any incompetent braiding mom into fits!

What do you think?

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or
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