This is a very short blog post about the **calculation of the number of possible association rules **in a dataset. I will assume that you know already what is **association rule mining**.

Let’s say that you have a dataset that contains **r** distinct items. With these items, it is possible to make many rules. Since the left side and right side of a rule cannot be empty, then the left side of a rule can contain between 1 to r-1 items (since the right side of a rule cannot be empty). Lets say that the number of items on the left size of a rule is called **k** and that the number of items on the right size is called **j.**

Then, the **total number of association rules** that can be made from these **r** items is:

**For example,** lets say that we have **r = 6** distinct items. Then, the number of possible association rules is **602**.

This may seems a quite complex expression but it is correct. I have first seen it in the book “Introduction to Data Mining” of Tan & Kumar. If you want to type this expression in Latex, here is the code:

\sum_{k=1}^{r-1}\left[\binom{r}{k} \times \sum_{j=1}^{r-k}\binom{r-k}{j}\right] = 3^r - 2^{r+1}+1

By the way, this expression is also correct for counting the number of possible **partially-ordered sequential rules **or **partially-ordered episode rules**.

Related to this, the number of **itemsets **that can be made from a transaction dataset having **r** distinct items is:

In that expression, the -1 is because we exclude the empty set. Here is the Latex code for that expression:

2^{r}-1

**Conclusion**

This was just a short blog post about **pattern mining** to discuss the size of the search space in association rule mining. Hope you have enjoyed it.

**— Philippe Fournier-Viger is a full professor working in China and founder of the SPMF open source data mining software.**