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Functions

Module by: Serhat Beyenir. E-mail the author

Summary: Functions are predefined formulas that simplify manual entry and allows us to carry out calculations that would otherwise be impossible.

Functions

The vast majority of engineering computations require a complex set of mathematical operations such as logarithms and trigonometric functions. Functions are predefined formulas that simplify manual entry and allows us to carry out calculations that would otherwise be impossible. Excel and other mainstream spreadsheet apps have an extensive library of built-in functions. For example, we can use the SUM function to total all the values in a column or use the MAX function to find the biggest number in a range of cells. However, functions can do a lot more than just math. They can look up data in another location, calculate cells only if they meet a specific criteria and combine the contents of two or more cells.

Elements of a Function

A function can consist of five elements:

  • Numerical values or text-strings (such as 1.2, or HeatLosses).
  • Cell references (including named cells and ranges).
  • Operators.
  • Worksheet functions (e.g. SUM or AVERAGE) and their arguments.
  • Parentheses to control the sequence of arithmetic operations.

Miscellaneous Functions

The AVERAGE function returns the average of all the values in that array. The syntax is as follows: =AVERAGE(A1:B5)

The MIN function returns the smallest number in a set of values. The syntax is as follows: =MIN(A1:B5)

The MAX function returns the largest value in a set of values. The syntax is as follows: =MAX(A1:B5)

The SUM function adds all the numbers specified in a range. The syntax is as follows: =SUM([number1],[number2],...])

The CONVERT function converts a number from one measurement system to another. The syntax for the CONVERT function is: =CONVERT(number,from_unit,to_unit) The CONVERT function’s arguments are as follows:

  • number: The value in from_units to convert.
  • from_unit: The unit for number.
  • to_unit: The unit for the result.
Table 1: Conversion of Temperature Units
Temperature From_unit or to_unit
Degree Celsius "C" (or "cel")
Degree Fahrenheit "F" (or "fah")
Kelvin "K" (or "kel")
Table 2: Conversion of Power Units.
Power From_unit or to_unit
Horsepower "HP" (or "h")
Watt "W" (or "w")
Table 3: Conversion of Force Units.
Force From_unit or to_unit
Newton "N"
Pound force "lbf"

Example 1

To convert kilometers to miles: =CONVERT(A2,"km","mi")

Example 2

To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit: =CONVERT(A6,"C","F")

Example 3

To convert milligrams to kilograms: =CONVERT(A10,"mg","kg")

Example 4

To convert days to seconds: =CONVERT(A14,"day","sec")

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