CheckCell, available as a free Excel software plug-in on GitHub, is a Microsoft Research-funded project.
The researchers' technique for pinpointing Excel errors uses what one member of the team calls "a threshold of unusualness" in which questionable data points are marked for spreadsheet designers to double check. This data debugging approach addresses shortcomings in simple testing and static analysis efforts designed to root out bugs in programs.
Next up is applying the technology to Big Data.
Picture Perfect Computers
University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Hawaii scientists have been awarded $300K in National Science Foundation funding to develop a conversational and interpretive computer that can create easy-to-digest visualizations from data based on natural language requests and common gestures like pointing.
"Today, with big data, you really need to be using visualizations to help you figure out what it is you're looking at," says Andrew Johnson, director of research at UIC's Electronic Visualization Laboratory. "Visualization should be interactive; a dynamic process. We want scientists to be able get ideas out there quickly."
Among other things, the technology would give scientists a tool beyond basic spreadsheets like Excel to graph data. The funded project is based on earlier visualization work out of UIC dubbed Articulate.
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