Generating Permutations

Category: General VBA | [Item URL]

The number of permutations of a string is equal to the factorial of the length of the string. For example, the word DOG has a length of three -- which means that the letters can be rearranged in six different ways: DOG, DGO, ODG OGD, GDO, and GOD. The number of permutations quickly gets unwieldy. The table below lists the number of permutations for strings of various sizes.

 Characters Permutations 1 1 2 2 3 6 4 24 5 120 6 720 7 5,040 8 40,320 9 362,880 10 3,628,800 11 39,916,800 12 479,001,600

This tip describes how to generate all permutations from a string. It uses a recursive subroutine to do the work. The source of this algorithm is not known (I was browsing through some old files on my hard drive and discovered it).

VBA Listing

The GetString subroutine prompts the user for a string. If the length of the string is greater than 1 and less than 8, the GetPermutations subroutine is called --which then calls itself. The permutations are stored in column A of the worksheet.

```Dim CurrentRow

Sub GetString()
Dim InString As String
InString = InputBox("Enter text to permute:")
If Len(InString) < 2 Then Exit Sub
If Len(InString) >= 8 Then
MsgBox "Too many permutations!"
Exit Sub
Else
ActiveSheet.Columns(1).Clear
CurrentRow = 1
Call GetPermutation("", InString)
End If
End Sub

Sub GetPermutation(x As String, y As String)
'   The source of this algorithm is unknown
Dim i As Integer, j As Integer
j = Len(y)
If j < 2 Then
Cells(CurrentRow, 1) = x & y
CurrentRow = CurrentRow + 1
Else
For i = 1 To j
Call GetPermutation(x + Mid(y, i, 1), _
Left(y, i - 1) + Right(y, j - i))
Next
End If
End Sub
```

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