Feeds

Excel scientific and engineering cookbook

Celebrity chef’ing by numbers

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Book review Most people have a schizophrenic attitude to Excel, seeing it as “trivial” because they can use it with almost no training, but too difficult to use on more meaty problems. By way of response, David Bourg delivers a set of recipes that cook up some increasingly non trivial problems.

The cookbook style does however mean that rather than just telling you things like “to get log scales do this” the author does tend to assume that this is a problem for him to solve for you. But overall it works because almost no one will ever read this book from cover to cover, instead dipping into it achieve specific goals.

The section on Excel graphs is more than competent, and possibly is the basis for those who need help in visualising relatively dry equations without having to master more complex and expensive tools like MatLab and Mathematica. The introduction to finite difference methods is easily the clearest I have ever read, and possibly justifies the whole book if that topic is proving hard for you to master. I am also taken with the way that Bourg illustrates data manipulation with real data sets that you can download, and I can’t recall any other author dealing with the real problem of “weird” characters in imported data. This is used to take us through a range of real world statistical analysis beyond the precooked recipes in Excel.

What shines through each example is how Bourg brings in his experience of doing this in real life. If you’re doing serious number crunching in Excel, then this book can shortcut otherwise painful learning experiences. A small example is that most people seem to think you can’t drive Solver from VBA, and automating can make many tedious problems simply go away.

However the focus is on doing almost everything through no procedural sheets. That fits the way most Excel users think. Rather than VBA loops, he presents the unusual approach of ranges allowing you to look “inside” the calculation. Thus you can see things like Euler’s method go very wrong, rather more graphically than in Duffy’s book. (link to my review) He uses the Solver to deal with several issues that one would normally code iteratively, which makes it both faster and usually more robust. The code he does present is mostly quite good, except for his use of VBA integers. These little 16 bit wretches are a source of many irritating Excel bugs, and it’s not good that he promotes their use, when longs are available.

You can just about learn elementary VBA here, but you’d be better off with Walkenbach or Jackson & Staunton if you’re targeting investment banking work, since Bourg’s engineering background makes this a better entry-level engineering text than a finance one.

O’Reilly have done away with code disks, and replaced it with a free trial of their Safari online bookshelf. This is a pretty good system, including the full text of the book, but does mean that if you don’t get all the stuff you need from the book 45 days, you end up cut off.®

excel cook book

Excel Scientific and Engineering Cookbook

Verdict: Gives a different way to look at problems using lucid real world examples.

Author: David M. Bourg

Publisher: O’Reilly

ISBN: 0596008791

Media: Book

Buy this book at Cash 'n' Carrion.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.