Excel 2007 Displays Erroneous Math Calculations

Microsoft officials are acknowledging the significant errors in the company's Excel program, an important component incorporated into Office 2007.

The error in mathematical calculations on Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet first appeared on September 22, 2007 when a person named Molham Serry reported it. He multiplied 850 by 77.1 on Excel 2007, but it showed the result as 100,000 instead of 65,535.

Microsoft employee David Gainer said in a blog post that Excel shows erroneous results on multiplying 10.2 by 6,425, 77.1 by 850, and 20.4 by 3,212.5, but the software seemed to be correct in handling when 16,383.75 is multiplied by 4. Associated Press reported this on September 28, 2007. More testing such as with 65,536 showed the same behavior, Gainer wrote.

According to him, Excel actually performed the correct calculations, but while displaying the answers on screen, it showed messed up result.

Fortunately, experts at Excel have been able to identify the problem and they are working to resolve it. Contrary to various opinions, Excel can perform additions, but it shows the data in the wrong cell.

The developers of Excel program said that they regard Excel calculations with utmost importance and so they are trying to make sure that calculations are accurate for all computations, said the blog posting. There is a widespread use of Microsoft Excel ranging from fundamental back office number crunching, to advanced usage such as in bridge designing and aeronautics.

Excel experts said the problem was due to a 'floating point' error. This is similar to the notorious bug that inflicted Intel-designed Pentium chips in the year 1994. A 'floating point' error takes place when a computer places the decimal point in a group of digits wrongly, a mistake that is common for the high school students of math.

According to the team working on Excel, they have developed a patch for the issue and have almost completed the tests while ensuring it doesn't create additional problems. After they are fully satisfied, they will make the update available.

A point to note is that the current issue makes no effect on the previous Excel versions.

Related article: Excel Displays Three Holes

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