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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Check your spreadsheet!

Further to our story last month (‘Spreadsheet risks and control’, p16), we refer you to the latest edition of Louise Pryor’s monthly letter (www.louisepryor.com). In it she discusses problems with Excel 2003, which, Louise says, has bugs and is being touted as having an improved random number generator:

The RAND function doesn’t work in Excel 2003. It’s meant to return a random number between 0 and 1, but in fact it sometimes returns negative numbers. Microsoft has released a ‘hotfix’ (its term) that it claims fixes the problem. It also claims that it fixes several other problems, a number of which they had not previously mentioned.

There is no indication in these cases that anything is awry. If you use Excel 2003, your spreadsheets may not show the correct results. The hotfix is not downloadable. You have to contact Microsoft and convince them that you need it.