Excel 97 arithmetic

“The flaw presents itself when multiplying two numbers whose product equals 65,535. Fire up your favorite calculator and multiply 850 by 77.1. Through the magic of zeros and ones, you’ll quickly get an answer of 65,535. Those using the Excel 2007, however, will be told the total is 100,000. The program similarly fails when multiplying 11 other sets of numbers, including 5.1*12850, 10.2*6425 and 20.4*3212.5, according to this blog post from Microsoft manager David Gainer.” Dan Goodin, The Register

You can’t make this stuff up. There is a fix on the way, and hats off to David Gainer for being honest and making the problem public. Spreadsheets are the people’s programming environment, rightly or wrongly, even though the ‘interface’ emphasises values rather than the formulas used to reach the values. Perhaps we need a simple cross-platform numerical scratch pad that has a reliable calculation engine? Something like Octave?

Comments are closed.