On the Numerical Accuracy of Spreadsheets

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On the Numerical Accuracy of Spreadsheets

Eike Rathke-6

The Journal of Statistical Software, a publication by the American
Statistical Association, last year published a paper

"On the Numerical Accuracy of Spreadsheets"

| This paper discusses the numerical precision of five spreadsheets (Calc,
| Excel, Gnumeric, NeoOffice and Oleo) running on two hardware platforms
| (i386 and amd64) and on three operating systems (Windows Vista, Ubuntu
| Intrepid and Mac OS Leopard). The methodology consists of checking the
| number of correct significant digits returned by each spreadsheet when
| computing the sample mean, standard deviation, first-order
| autocorrelation, F statistic in ANOVA tests, linear and nonlinear
| regression and distribution functions. A discussion about the algorithms
| for pseudorandom number generation provided by these platforms is also
| conducted. We conclude that there is no safe choice among the
| spreadsheets here assessed: they all fail in nonlinear regression and
| they are not suited for Monte Carlo experiments.

Example data set available.

Calc releases assessed were 2.4.1 and 3.0.1, so they missed some of
Regina's more recent work on accuracy. Nevertheless, Calc doesn't come
off badly ;-)


 OOo Calc core developer. Number formatter stricken i18n transpositionizer.
 Signature key 0x87F8D412 : 2F58 5236 DB02 F335 8304  7D6C 65C9 F9B5 87F8 D412
 OpenOffice.org Engineering at Oracle: http://blogs.sun.com/GullFOSS

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