Depending on your expectations, you may have different reactions to the statistical function support in Excel. If you expect anything similar to a statistical package, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you think of Excel as a spreadsheet for everybody that sometimes lets you do statistical tasks right there without having to open up a statistical package, you’ll be pleased.
I was looking into the functions in Excel 2007 while preparing for a class I taught yesterday. I wanted to emphasize that certain functions are everywhere, not only in mathematical packages like Mathematica and R, but also in Python and even Excel.
Excel’s set of functions is inconsistent, both in the functionality provided and in the names it uses. Having an asymmetric API makes it harder to remember what is available and how to use it. On the other hand, the most commonly needed functions are available. The functions are individually reasonable even though they do not fit together into a simple pattern.
For details, see my notes Probability distributions in Excel 2007.
I discovered along the way that Excel has a
GAMMALN function to compute the logarithm of the Gamma function Γ(x). This is a very useful function to have, even more useful than the Gamma function itself for reasons explained here.
Comparison of data analysis packages from Brendan O’Connor
R, Excel, and the Windows clipboard (good tips in the comments)