When series of locants containing the same number of terms are compared term by term, that series which contains the lowest number on the occasion of the first difference is preferred.
For example, in the following molecule, the numbering can be done from either side of the chain to get two sets of locants. However the 2,7,9 is chosen since it has lowest number i.e., 2 on the first occasion of difference when compared with the other set: 3,4,9.
Actually the so called “Least Sum Rule” is the special case of above “Rule of First point of Difference”. Though looking simple, the least sum rule is valid only to chains with two substituents, a special case. However use of Least sum rule is not advisable when there are more than two substituents since it may violate the actual rule of first point of difference.
Therefore, while deciding the positions, we should always use "the rule of first point of difference" only.
ii) If two or more side chains are at equivalent positions, the one to be assigned the lower number is that cited first in the name.
In case of simple radicals, the group to be cited first in the name is decided by the alphabetical order of the first letter in case of simple radicals. While choosing the alphabetical order, the prefixes like di, tri, tetra must not be taken into account.
In the following molecule, 4-ethyl-5-methyloctane, both methyl and ethyl groups are at equivalent positions. However the ethyl group comes first in the alphabetical order. Therefore it is to be written first in the name and to be given the lowest number