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Thread: Balancing Assumptions

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    Board Regular Jeffrey Mahoney's Avatar
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    Default Balancing Assumptions

    In my life I have struggled with assumptions. They are an evil necessary. When I was younger, I questioned everything and refused to be nailed down on any idea; to the point of not being able to get things done. Some scientists rely on this heavily.

    As I grew older I found that I needed to rely more and more on assumptions. The more times we are proven right, the bolder the assumptions become, and the harder it is to let them go even when presented with harsh truths.

    I know that in my little Excel world this means nothing in the scheme of things, but I must share nonetheless.

    The assumption I made was that formulas like =MIN() and =MAX() DO NOT take blank cells into the equation. I assumed that a blank cell would return zero. It sadly does not. As I look back over the last 30 years working with spreadsheets, I used to know this. What changed? Why is there not a MINB().

    In this example where cell A1=3 and Cell B1 is blank and I want to get the minimum (assuming blanks are zero), I would have to tweak it like this:
    =MIN(A1-0,B1-0) = 0
    Otherwise the result would be:
    =MIN(A1:B1) = 3

    How do I break up the stony, crusty, calcium encrusted assumptions and get back to a free thinking youth I once was? Is this really about Excel?

    Humbled, that is all.
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    MrExcel MVP shg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Balancing Assumptions

    Most functions make assumptions about blanks among other data; MIN and MAX ignore them, AND treats them as TRUE, PRODUCT treats them as 1, arithmetic operations treat them as 0 ...

    I find the assumptions pretty intuitive.

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    Scott Huish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Balancing Assumptions

    There is a shorter way you could make that tweak to MIN though and would be more helpful if you had larger ranges.

    =MIN(--(A1:B1))
    Confirm with CTRL-SHIFT-ENTER instead of just Enter.
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