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Cool stuff you use MS Excel for?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I thought this thread would be a good idea since I'm sure the majority of us use Excel in one way or another.

My line of work doesn't require any superior computer skills so the only thing I really use Excel for is to make drop down lists to save time for entering into fields.

For school work, when I'm crunch on time, I would use formulas instead of doing them by hand.


If anyone would like to contribute, please list what the function is and describe a brief description. I think that would be enough for any other members to YouTube it and get more information on it.
post #2 of 32
Nothing technical like financial models or anything but I did download a spreadsheet for Starting Strength. Super easy way to track my workout progress for M/W/F. If I happen to fail during a workout, there's even a field to dial it down by certain percentage.
post #3 of 32
I have written research papers in excel. Once you learn to "wrap text" it's easy to see each row as an index card and each column as a field.
post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandrake9072 View Post

Nothing technical like financial models or anything but I did download a spreadsheet for Starting Strength. Super easy way to track my workout progress for M/W/F. If I happen to fail during a workout, there's even a field to dial it down by certain percentage.
Can you please elaborate on this? Where did you download it from? Is it something that is used as a supplement to Excel?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey View Post

I have written research papers in excel. Once you learn to "wrap text" it's easy to see each row as an index card and each column as a field.

Haha, that was probably the highlight of my former Master's program. I had to compile a list of different methods and was dumbfound as how to make the long text visible without widening the particular column. shog[1].gif
post #5 of 32
Eh... I creating a rudimentary spreadsheet that tracks my spending.
post #6 of 32
I can't imagine life without Excel. Almost all of my non-web time on my computer is spent on Excel. Without Excel, my computer would just be a toy. My field is chemical engineering and I often use Excel to solve a problem from start to finish because I can set up a problem and solve it in less time than it takes me to look up the relevant function(s), syntax, and write and debug a MatLab or Mathematica script.

Until my junior year of college, I didn't even know that you could add two cells together in Excel. I use it for almost every calculation now - even for stuff that I could do by hand, on a calculator or in a more complex math program like Octave, MatLab or Mathematica. I'm often amazed by how limited people think Excel is.

Some things I frequently do in Excel (all of these have very similar setup, fwiw):

- solve systems of differential equations describing reaction kinetics, heat/mass transfer, etc. I prefer using Excel to solve diffeqs with no analytical solution (rather than MatLab, Mathematica, etc.) because I can play around with the solver method, step size, etc. to see how the solution behaves. If the problem is implicit, I can set up a macro to iterate the solution to convergence.
- manually integrate graph data or discrete data points (usually for software whose freeware implementation only spits out a table of data with no integration work done on it), and manually differentiated curves.
- use Excel's random number generator to do searches for solutions to non-linear regression problems and generate joint confidence intervals
- use Excel's non-linear solvers to do robust linear regressions
- use Excel to explore how an algorithm behaves

I do 99% of my plotting in Excel and I've gotten really good at making graphs look professional and getting rid of that stock "Microsoft Office 2010 red blue yellow green" theme. Often, my diffeq solutions look 100% better than Mathematica or MatLab plots, so nobody ever complains about where it comes from.

I only really use Excel for math and I feel like I barely scratch the surface. With VB, Excel is essentially Turing-complete. I've never dabbled in forms (except on GDocs) and I rarely write my own formulas. I've never made a pivot table and the most complex "business-esque" data analysis thing I've done is dabble in GQL on Google Docs for my part-time boss's disgustingly disorganized spreadsheet-based job tracking system. I also rarely use built-in formulas, other than SUM, AVERAGE, STDEV and the linear regression functions, since I just plug in the formula for most of the math I'm doing.
post #7 of 32
^ haha nerd.
post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by wj4 View Post

Can you please elaborate on this? Where did you download it from? Is it something that is used as a supplement to Excel?

Hrm dunno if I worded it properly, but basically what I meant was that I use this "calculator" for SS:

http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Tools_and_Downloads

Rather than guessing where I should be at, I've been following that ever since I started the program.
post #9 of 32
I am another heavy Excel user at work. I work in economic development and am often using Excel to put together simple comparisons of demographic or economic data from different geographies. I've also built a few models using Excel and multiple macros where I can enter particular variables from a development project (# of new jobs or jobs lost, $ spent on construction, local property tax rates, salaries of specified positions, etc.) and get outputs for spin-off economic development and local fiscal impacts. I also put together pro formas for entrepreneurs and small businesses considering purchasing and/or renovating property to help them determine whether or not it is a wise investment at a given time.

I also use ESRI's ArcGIS software for mapping, statistical analysis and comparison, network and spatial analysis, and site location assistance and previously I had to upload large datasets in Access (which I also use frequently but feel that it's the red-headed step child of the Microsoft Office Suite and it doesn't have the functionality that it should) but thanks to recent ESRI upgrades I can now upload and join the datasets via Excel instead which is much easier and quicker, especially when it's a dataset I will likely never use again or have no real need for saving in a cumbersome Access database.

And being the nerd that I am, I have some Excel spreadsheets for personal use such as one tracking my gasoline usage going back to the start of 2007. It tracks where I have purchased each gallon of gasoline at (never know when I might want to map that out!), how many miles I get from each tank, my miles per gallon, the cost of each gallon of gas, and how much it costs me to drive each mile while taking into consideration the initial cost of the vehicles, any interest paid on it, insurance premiums, and tire rotations and maintenance (oil changes are free).

I have another spreadsheet going tracking the breakdown of the color of all the M&M's I eat from the free fun-sized packs on a coworkers desk. In case your wondering, I have eaten more yellow than anything going back through 2008.

The last personal spreadsheet I have going that I update regularly is one I started recently tracking games of Words With Friends against a couple of buddies. It tracks who wins each game, each score, on going average score, average win margin, and a cumulative +/- against each of them.
post #10 of 32
166

Note the scroll bar. This motherfucker ran up against the character limit on formulas.

Pretty much all the work I've been doing on my stock trading algorithm is done in Excel, except for the machine-learning/data-mining algorithms which my partner does in R. Although the results that R spits out have to be fed back into the backtester I've built in Excel to be deciphered. Whenever we build new models or tweaks to existing models we build 864 variations which all have to be tested, so I also use macros extensively.
post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kekrre View Post

I do 99% of my plotting in Excel and I've gotten really good at making graphs look professional and getting rid of that stock "Microsoft Office 2010 red blue yellow green" theme. Often, my diffeq solutions look 100% better than Mathematica or MatLab plots, so nobody ever complains about where it comes from.

What do you use for that?
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by wj4 View Post

For school work, when I'm crunch on time, I would use formulas instead of doing them by hand.

This is probably my biggest academic regret. I loath math and thought of all the time I could have saved had I been using excel when I was in middle school-col.
post #13 of 32
Probably the only non work cool thing I do is use excel to pick my lottery numbers when I play. Its really easy to set up, let me know if anyone wants me to walk them through it.
post #14 of 32
There is already an excel tips and tricks thread...

Excel is a terribly kludgy and shitty tool for anything with large amounts of data. Sure, VBA can do "everything" but not nicely, efficiently, or well.

Excel makes spreadsheets--and it does it very well. It is also pretty good at marking up tables.
Using excel as a database or as a statistical package is a good way to run into problems down the road.

I'm currently spitting output from SAS into an excel sheet with a handful of drop down menus that let you tweak parameters in an output table. In the background is a tab filled with the source text for the drop downs (and offset functions to link their output to the actual input values)...then there are 400some array formulas (mostly index(match())) that apply the selected parameters and combine them with some fixed parameters to pull in the inputs for the table from the imported data tab.

It is a huge nasty mess--array formulas and offsets become increasingly difficult to verify, especially if someone else is trying to audit your work. Unfortunately the client wanted a tool that they can play with and lawyers don't usually have SAS or want to change inputs and run a program...so they get huge excel sheet with drop downs.
post #15 of 32
Question to you guys using excel for heavy math stuff like algorithms and differential equations regressions etc:

Where did you learn to do this? I have no technical training and no science background. I am just curious, does an undergraduate degree in economics, business, engineering etc teach you to do this? It seems that few people I encounter use excel for little more than the basic crap. Even my nerdy friends don't use excel for complicated things.
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