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Wednesday
Apr172013

How Excel shapes the world

A bit off topic but then again, perhaps not. We all know that a great deal of bioinformatics gets done in ad hoc ways in Excel.

Replicating Reinhart & Rogoff

The short version is that an error in an Excel formula may be driving trends in the global economy. spreadsheet


The formula is for the average growth in GDP for countries with high debt. The wrong formula changes the value from +2.2 to -0.1 and is cited as the justification for the global push to economic austerity. A bit melodramatic perhaps.

A simple error in a spreadsheet couldn't really drive world events now could it.

 

 

Reader Comments (1)

Definitely not off topic, there was even a publication in 2004 highlighting this issue for gene names transformed into dates (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2105/5/80). Even sadder, it has been found very recently in a major database (Cancer Genome Atlas), see http://nsaunders.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/gene-name-errors-and-excel-lessons-not-learned/

April 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterChristine Hoogland
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