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On the Numerical Accuracy of Spreadsheets

Author

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  • Almiron, Marcelo G.
  • Lopes, Bruno
  • Oliveira, Alyson L. C.
  • Medeiros, Antonio C.
  • Frery, Alejandro C.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Almiron, Marcelo G. & Lopes, Bruno & Oliveira, Alyson L. C. & Medeiros, Antonio C. & Frery, Alejandro C., 2010. "On the Numerical Accuracy of Spreadsheets," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 34(i04).
  • Handle: RePEc:jss:jstsof:v:034:i04
    DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10.18637/jss.v034.i04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yalta, A. Talha, 2007. "The Numerical Reliability of GAUSS 8.0," The American Statistician, American Statistical Association, vol. 61, pages 262-268, August.
    2. A. Talha Yalta & A. Yasemin Yalta, 2007. "GRETL 1.6.0 and its numerical accuracy," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 849-854.
    3. A. Talha Yalta, 2010. "The Accuracy of Statistical Distributions in Microsoft (R) Excel 2007," Working Papers 1006, TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Department of Economics.
    4. McCullough, B. D., 2000. "Is it safe to assume that software is accurate?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 349-357.
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    Cited by:

    1. Varma, Jayanth R. & Virmani, Vineet, 2017. "Shiny Alternative for Finance in the Classroom," IIMA Working Papers WP 2017-03-05, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
    2. Sun, Tien-Lung & Lo, Kuo-Hung & Chen, Juei-Chao, 2016. "An accurate updating formula to calculate sample variance from weighted successive differences," Statistics & Probability Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 14-19.

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