Spreadsheet statistics for teaching and production
Murphy, B.P., Klobas, J.E. and Keady, G. (1990) Spreadsheet statistics for teaching and production. In: 3rd International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS3), 19 - 24 August 1990, Dunedin, New Zealand
We have found spreadsheets very useful for teaching statistics, operations research, and other quantitative methods in commerce: students learn quickly when typing and debugging formulae and macros, and get a real feeling for the relation between computation and theory. However, after a while, it is necessary to tum to a more traditional statistical package to find both standard and advanced procedures needed for real~world data examination. WEST AT Associates has developed the MASS system for some years, a stand-alone statistical package of some size and power, and we have used it extensively for teaching, at second course but not at introductory level. In the past six months we (1.5 persons) have ported it to sit on the new spreadsheet WingZ (by Informix Inc) on the Mac to form a new program StatZ, which combines the advantages of a spreadsheet and a specialised program for the teaching and practice of statistics. (See Section 3(ii) for other computers.) Porting a program from one language or machine or system to another is usually a painful exercise. However, the power and flexibility of the "scripting" and of the facilities for linking external code provided by WingZ and its Hyper Script macro language, which we have used for incorporating our MASS code into their highly commercial, well-tested base ptoduct, seems destined to have a profound effect on related areas of program development. This will yield new research and teaching software, as already pioneered by Apple's HyperCard, the technical precursor of WingZ's HyperScript.
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