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I recently started to realize that Excel is a powerful tool that can solve many problems. What interesting mathematics problems are there can be solved using excel? I am looking for a set of challenges to try and solve using excel and to try and gain a better understanding of excel while having fun (problem solving).

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I use it all the time as an alternative to a programming language. As long as I won't loop more than about 2000 times, seeing every number in a calculation makes debugging fast. When people ask recursion questions, I always calculate the first terms to see what they look like. –  Ross Millikan Dec 21 '12 at 16:44

2 Answers 2

There are many books (including free e-books) on the matter.

Here is a scattering of book examples (spreadsheets can do many amazing things and one of my instructors used it in numerical analysis and it was amazing to see, especially since I am more a Mathematica person).

Practical Numerical Analysis using Microsoft Excel, by A. Nandy

Applied Calculus with Microsoft Excel, Chester Piascik

Applied Mathematics with Microsoft Excel, Chester Piasci

Introductory Econometrics: Using Monte Carlo Simulation with Microsoft Excel, Humberto Barreto, Frank Howland

Data Analysis and Decision Making with Microsoft Excel: With Decision Tools and Statistic Tools Suite, S. Christian Albright, Wayne L. Winston, Christopher James Zappe

Statistics with Microsoft Excel (5th Edition), Beverly Dretzke

Finance and Financial Engineering with Microsoft Excel, Vikram Nanda

Excel by Example: A Microsoft Excel Cookbook for Electronics Engineers, Aubrey Kagan

Excel for Scientists and Engineers: Numerical Methods, E. Joseph Billo

Excel Scientific and Engineering Cookbook (Cookbooks (O'Reilly)), David M Bourg

Additionally, there are interesting tools for things like simulations, risk analyses, optimization and the like that are add-ons, for example Excel Solver. Look at a list of examples.

Regards -A

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Very nice list! I had a professor I TA'd for that used excel to teach the concept of limit, and of derivatives, and introducing integrals (approximating area under curves). That was a little before some more developed software came along, but it worked, and the learning curve for using excel straight off is minimal! –  amWhy May 11 '13 at 0:30
    
I have been amazed by some of the things I have seen people at work and numerical analysts do with a spreadsheet. At work, some extremely complex math and engineering tools have been developed. One of MicroS's best tools IMO. –  Amzoti May 11 '13 at 0:44

Here are some mentions of Excel related to data science.

http://www.kaggle.com/c/titanic-gettingStarted/details/getting-started-with-excel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwt6XEh7U3g

However, to do these kind of problems right, one probably will need more than Excel.

You could use Excel to analyze and visual your personal finances (or any recurring numbers of have). Make some conditional formatting where you spend more or less than average. Make some simple prediction for the future etc. Make a monthly predicted overall...

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