[Haskell-cafe] Is Excel a FP language?

Neil Mitchell ndmitchell at gmail.com
Wed Apr 25 06:43:46 EDT 2007

Hi Tony,

I think Lennart said it best with "Excel is a zero-order functional
language" - a functional language in which you can't define functions.
Another way of putting that is that it is a functional language, but a
really bad one (from a functional'ness perspective).



On 4/25/07, Tony Morris <tmorris at tmorris.net> wrote:
> 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
> language.
> 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
> http://tmorris.net/
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