[R] Excel

Bert Gunter gunter.berton at gene.com
Wed Aug 29 21:57:07 CEST 2007


This is not a comment either for or against the use of Excel. I only wish to
point out that AFAICS, Hadley Wickham's reshape package offers all the pivot
table functionality and more.

If I am wrong about this, please let me and everyone else know.

Bert Gunter
Genentech Nonclinical Statistics

-----Original Message-----
From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch
[mailto:r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of Erich Neuwirth
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 11:43 AM
To: r-help
Subject: Re: [R] Excel

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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