[Haskell-cafe] Is Excel a FP language?

Tony Morris tmorris at tmorris.net
Tue Apr 24 23:00:14 EDT 2007

In a debate I proposed "Excel is a functional language". It was refuted
and I'd like to know what some of you clever Haskellers might think :)

My opposition proposed (after some "weeding out") that there is a
distinction between Excel, the application, the GUI and Excel, the
language (which we eventually agreed (I think) manifested itself as a
.xls file). Similarly, VB is both a language and a development
environment and referring to VB is a potential ambiguity. I disagree
with this analogy on the grounds that the very definition of Excel
(proposed by Microsoft) makes no distinction. Further, it is impossible
to draw a boundary around one and not the other.

I also pointed to the paper by Simon Peyton-Jones titled, "Improving the
world's most popular functional language: user-defined functions in
Excel", which quite clearly refers to Excel as a [popular] functional

The debate started when I referred to the fact that financial
institutions change their functional language from Excel to something
like OCaml or Haskell. Of course, there is no doubting that these
companies can replace their entire use of Excel with a functional
language, which I think is almost enough to fully support my position
(emphasis on "almost").

Tony Morris

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