Chapter 15   The Cell Master.  Aladin Akyurek  from The Hague, Netherlands

interview date:13.Aug.2003
Please introduce your self. You may be as thorough as you wish. Feel free to include or omit any detail about yourself.
I have a Master's Degree in Psychology (minor in Quantitative Research Methods) and a Master's Degree in Artificial Intelligence/Computer Science. Both from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

My training in the latter involved topics like Lisp (my favorite programming language), predicate logic, non-deterministic programming, building artificial intelligence systems, information systems, relational databases, and the like.

I did some research work in psychology and artificial intelligence before moving to my current job. I teach information systems, information systems audit, spreadsheets, and relational databases at the School of Accountancy in a 'college'.

When do you remember using Excel for the very first time? Can you remember any specific details from that first time?
It must have been a day or two before I had to give a freshman class in Excel in probably 1997. I worked thru a rather simple syllabus that was in use back then.

When do you remember writing your first formula or VBA code for Excel?
It must have been a + or Sum formula, I guess, for the very first freshman class I had to give.

On average, how many hours per day do you spend working with Excel formulas and/or VBA code?
Two hours, maybe. With formulas, that is.

Which do you find most rewarding to work with: Formulas or VBA in Excel? Please tell us why?
Formulas. Spreadsheets are basically connected sets of formulas (and VBA is not Lisp or Scheme). So I think that's the reason.

If you were going to give a novice, just starting out with Excel, some advice, what would it be?
Try to master the basics and Excelese as fast as possible.
Experimenting a lot and studying solutions to well-defined, intelligible problems become necessary to build expertise, more so if one is not trained in formal sciences.

Please provide a sample of your first work (either as a formula or vba code) in Excel and tell us about it.
Hard to dig up one that can be considered as such. I suppose it must have been a (set of) formula(s) to a challenging question/problem at MrExcel, a Q&A board I ran into I believe while wandering once on the Internet.

What is your mental attitude when you are preparing to write formulae or VBA code? And what is your working environment?
There must be a question/problem first. A solution mostly pops up by routine, not necessarily an Excel routine though.
Harder things appear to make me run Excel in my head before I start composing possible formulas in Excel on the computer.

My working environment is often my study at home or sometimes my office at school.

If there special preparations that must be in place before you can begin, what are they?
None. Although Mozart fits my study quite well.

Finally, please give us something to think about - a reminder of your words here; a phrase that has helped you; a link to your own website. Anything that you think is important for the readers to remember.
Cognition matters. More so, if you are a developer of spreadsheet systems or you want to become one. That is, there are good reasons for, e.g., why to avoid formulas with more than 4 Ifs or mega-formulas given the way the human cognition is.

Links? Why not...

Here is one to my "white paper on" Condition-driven computing that gives an extended description of the SumProduct worksheet function, dated as December 09, 2001 10:34 AM:

Another, a proposal to Microsoft regarding lookup functions or the #N/A problem:

Thank you very much for answering the questions.

This Black belt is yours...

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