Molecular Weights 8

I wouldn’t normally publish a post on such an esoteric topic as this. However, since the idea for it came as a result of a challenge posed by the venerable David Hager, I felt that I could not resist.

And that challenge was as follows: given a list of chemical elements and their respective atomic weights, a formula to determine the weight for a given molecule.

It goes without saying that there are numerous quick and easy online applications which will perform such a calculation. Nevertheless, and however unlikely it may seem, there is still a small probability that this post will reach one or more of the tiny minority who have a practical need for such calculations to be performed within Excel (and, in addition, perhaps without recourse to VBA).


Advanced Formula Challenge #12: Results and Discussion 2

Last week I set readers the challenge which can be found here.

Such was the number and variety of responses to this challenge that presenting a detailed breakdown of one such solution – as has been the case for all of the first eleven in this series of challenges – would, I feel, be somewhat inappropriate.

For the majority of these challenges, it could be argued that there has been one solution which is indisputably “better” than the rest. Perhaps such an adjudication can also be made here, though to do so would certainly not be a straightforward exercise. What’s more, to pick just one of the many solutions would be to leave the rest – unfairly in my opinion – left on the sidelines.

As such, I would refer the readers to the many solutions in that post and to enjoy dissecting the varied and wonderful constructions therein. And to simply thank all those – Alex, aMareis, Maxim, John Jairo, sam, Jeff, Lori, Ron, Michael, Christian and XLarium – whose excellent contributions led to such a fruitful and inspiring discussion.

There’s evidently still much to be discovered in the world of worksheet formulas!

Another challenge to follow shortly. Watch this space!

Simultaneous Locating of First and Last Numbers in a String 23

I was initially debating whether to give this post a more pragmatic title, such as “Extracting Phone Numbers from a String”, that being one of the more common practical applications for the techniques outlined here.

However, the extraction of phone numbers (I’m referring here to that type which employs some form of delimiter, e.g. 1-800-12345, and not that which comprises a non-delimited numerical string, e.g. 180012345, there existing already well-documented formula techniques for the extraction of the latter – although of course the set-up given here will work for those as well) is certainly not the only use for this method, and so, in the end, I chose to go with a less restrictive, more theoretical title.


Advanced Formula Challenge #9: Results and Discussion Reply

Last week I set readers the challenge which can be found here.

One correct solution received, courtesy of Lori, who not only presented a fine construction for working in Excel 2010 and earlier, but also a 2013 version, which had the added benefit of taking advantage of some of the new (and evidently very useful) features of that version to noticeably abridge the required set-up. So many thanks to Lori for sharing this knowledge and also congratulations on an excellent solution to a particularly complex challenge!


Extracting numbers from a string 2: Consecutive numbers at end 3

This is the second in a series of discussions on the techniques available for extracting numbers from an alphanumeric string. In the first instalment in this series (which can be found here) I looked at extracting consecutive numbers which appear at the start of the string, e.g. 123ABC456.

In this post I will concentrate on techniques for extracting numbers from a string where:

  • The numbers are consecutive
  • The consecutive string of numbers is found at the very end of the string
  • The desired result is to have those consecutive numbers returned to a single cell

As previously, for each of the given solutions, we need to test its soundness in two separate cases: firstly, where there are no numbers elsewhere in the string, e.g. ABC456 and secondly, where there are some numbers elsewhere in the string, either at the start, e.g. 123ABC456, or in the middle, e.g. ABC123DEF456.


Extracting numbers from a string 1: Consecutive numbers at start 8

This is the first in a series of discussions on the techniques available for extracting numbers from an alphanumeric string. Since we often have many different solutions at our disposable for such tasks, I will attempt to present what I feel are the principal candidates and, for each of these set-ups, discuss the merits and potential drawbacks inherent in each.

In the next instalment in this series I shall look at extracting consecutive numbers which appear at the end of the string, e.g. ABC123. In later posts I will deal with cases in which the desired numbers to be extracted are interspersed within the string in groups of one or more, e.g. ABC12DE345-FG6H789, in which case we may be interested in extracting either the number 123456789 into a single cell or each of 12, 345, 6 and 789 into four separate cells.

I shall also consider in future posts cases in which there may be several numbers within a string, though from which we wish to extract perhaps only one (or more) of these numbers, and for which our choice of extraction is based upon one or more criteria. For example, given a string of the form X12-X34-X56-X78-X90 we may wish to develop a technique which extracts the number immediately preceding the fourth occurrence of a hyphen within that string.


1/17 and other pandigitals 9

A slightly light-hearted post this, as you may have guessed from the title, though readers might find it moderately interesting, and hopefully some may even contribute to my rather esoteric collection of pandigital numbers in Excel.

This began as a result of seeing (I don’t recall where now, unfortunately) an alternative version of the tried-and-tested construction for returning a number from the end of a mixed string. For example, given the following in A1:


the now-ubiquitous solution:


will correctly return 123456.