[R] Excel

Erich Neuwirth erich.neuwirth at univie.ac.at
Wed Aug 29 20:42:37 CEST 2007

Excel bashing can be fun but also can be dangerous because
you are makeing your life harder than necessary.
Statisticians meanwhile know that the numerics of statistical
computation can be quite bad, therefore one should not use them.
But using our (we = Thomas Baier + Erich Neuwirth) RExcel addin either
with the R(D)COM server or with rcom (package on CRAN) allows you to use
all the nice features of Excel (yes, there are quite a few) and use R as
as the computational engine within Excel. The formula
=RApply("var",A1:A1000) in an Excel cell for example will use R to
compute the variance of the data in column A in Excel. If you change any
of the values in the range A1:A1000 will automatically recompute the

There is one feature in Excel which is extremely convenient, Pivot
tables. Anybody doing any work as statistical consultant really ought to
know about Pivot tables, and I am still surprised how many statisticians
do not know about it. Neither Gnumeric nor OpenOffice Calc offer
comparably convenient ways working with multidimensional tables.

I think the answer to the question
"Excel or R" of course is "Excel and R".

Erich Neuwirth, University of Vienna
Faculty of Computer Science
Computer Supported Didactics Working Group
Visit our SunSITE at http://sunsite.univie.ac.at
Phone: +43-1-4277-39464 Fax: +43-1-4277-39459

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