In response to the latest controversy, a statistics professor writes:
It’s somewhat surprising to see Very Serious Researchers (apologies to Paul Krugman) using Excel. Some years ago, I was consulting on a trademark infringement case and was trying (unsuccessfully) to replicate another expert’s regression analysis. It wasn’t until I had the brainstorm to use Excel that I was able to reproduce his results – it may be better now, but at the time, Excel could propagate round-off error and catastrophically cancel like no other software!
Microsoft has lots of top researchers so it’s hard for me to understand how Excel can remain so crappy. I mean, sure, I understand in some general way that they have a large user base, it’s hard to maintain backward compatibility, there’s feature creep, and, besides all that, lots of people have different preferences in data analysis than I do. But still, it’s such a joke. Word has problems too, but I can see how these problems arise from its desirable features. The disaster that is Excel seems like more of a mystery.