Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Using a Function in a Formula
Functions
Figure 17-3:
After you type =COM , Excel
helpfully points out that it
knows only two functions that
start that way: COMBIN() and
COMPLEX(). If your fingers are
getting tired, use the arrow keys
to pick the right one out of the
list, and then click Tab to pop it
into your formula. (Or, you can
just double-click it.)
After you type the function name, add a pair of parentheses. Then, inside the
parentheses, put all the information the function needs to perform its calculations.
In the case of the COMBIN() function, Excel needs two pieces of information,
or arguments . The first is the number of items in the set (the 52-card deck), and the
second’s the number of items you’re randomly selecting (in this case, 5). Most
functions, like COMBIN(), require two or three arguments. However, some functions
can accept many more, while a few don’t need any arguments at all. Once again,
Formula AutoComplete guides you by telling you what arguments you need, as shown
in Figure 17-4.
Figure 17-4:
When you type the opening
parenthesis after a function
name, Excel automatically
displays a tooltip indicating what
arguments the function requires.
The argument you’re currently
entering is bolded in the tooltip.
The argument names aren’t
crystal clear, but if you already
know how the function works,
they’re usually enough to jog
your memory.
Once you type this formula into a cell, the result (2598960) appears in your
worksheet. In other words, there are 2,598,960 different possible five-card combinations
in any deck of cards. Rather than having to calculate this fact using probability
theory—or, heaven forbid, trying to count out the possibilities manually—the
COMBIN() function handled it for you.
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