[R] Excel

Antony Unwin unwin at math.uni-augsburg.de
Thu Aug 30 23:10:46 CEST 2007

Flame wars are usually vituperative, often entertaining, and  
occasionally productive.  Excel is good for accounts and for taking  
notes, sometimes for back-of-the-envelope calculations.  It is not so  
suitable for statistics and its formulae can be incomprehensible when  
you try to understand what they mean later (what on earth might C2*B 
$4 once have meant?).  R is great for statistics, but frustratingly  
linear (though Philippe Grosjean sees linearity as an advantage;  
people work in different ways).  Having previously run scripts and  
being able to rerun them is only useful if you can remember why they  
were written that way in the first place, so that you can adjust them  
for different situations.  As with all software, it is an advantage  
to know what you are doing.  Familiarity with the software, whatever  
you use, helps.

Erich Neuwirth recommended pivot tables and they can be quite  
effective.  I prefer the graphical alternative of interactive mosaic  
plots, as in iPlots.  Both are needed.  Erich's more important point  
is that you need to speak the language of the people you cooperate  
with and often that language includes Excel.

Antony Unwin

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