# Excel for statistics

10 Feb 2015
Excel 2007, like its predecessors, fails a standard set of intermediate-level accuracy tests in three areas: statistical distributions, random number generation, and estimation.

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Engineers use Excel for many numerical tasks. They don’t use if for finite element computations (although I suppose you could coax Excel to do that too) because it wasn’t intended for that purpose. They shouldn’t use it for statistics either, and for the same reason - Excel doesn’t do a very good job at tasks for which it was not intended.

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Each of the nine numbers given above is incorrect! The slope estimate has the wrong sign, the estimated standard errors of the coefficients are zero (making it impossible to construct t–statistics), and the values of R2, F and the regression sum of squares are negative! It’s obvious here that the output is garbage (even Excel seems to know this, as the #NUM!’s seem to imply), but what if the numbers that had come out weren’t absurd — just wrong?

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Teaching statistics is a big challenge, teaching statistics with Excel is an even bigger challenge.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Excel for Statistics!