Me, programs, examinations and coursework.

One of the most interesting things about Excel and its functions is the ability to write something as being true or false.

Excel 2007 icon

Excel is actually really powerful. Image via Wikipedia.

It’s a result of binary processing. Computers tend to like to think in binary code, resulting in two possible states: 0, and 1. This is pretty annoying in some cases, a lot more useful in others.

I’m imagining a time when computing power was very basic and restricted to massive things that would take up an entire room. (This would be before the invention of the screen; decades before the invention of the personal computer). Back then, computers were only capable of doing simple maths. Well, simple in computing terms, compared to now, when everything has CGI and visual graphics and photorealistic rendering and software capability and all that. Simple maths.

It would have been complicated. Every number would have had to be converted into binary format, entered manually using a bunch of switches and levers, then you would have to read off the binary result that came out and convert in into decimal numbers.

Okay, I’m guessing a lot and using my imagination a bit too much. But you get the idea.

In Excel, the IF() function is based heavily around the TRUE() and FALSE() states. It is the basis of the IF() logic-test; the basis that decides which of the two possible processes it is supposed to do. And that’s one way that TRUE() and FALSE() have slipped into my work.

But other things have happened as well. I wanted a dynamic teacher cost. I wanted it so that the teacher would come in only if there was a lesson. I also wanted to be nice to all my clients and not ask them to pay until their selected class is running, resulting in the fact that my calculations will need to know the number of people participating in an operational class.

As a result, I needed to know if the class was going on or not, if it had more than 12 people.

Sound familiar to you? I’ve said two IFs(). Yep. I wrote an IF() function.

=IF(E14>=12, TRUE, FALSE)

This is a basic, simplified version of the actual formula I have. (Other functions were added in later.) In basic form, if the people who signed up exceed 12 people, the chance it will run is TRUE. If not, it’s FALSE.

But this is where TRUE() and FALSE() functions also come in handy; as far as Excel is concerned, it’s two numbers: 1 – TRUE, 0 – FALSE.


Excel allows a multitude of operations to be performed on TRUE() and FALSE() states; it allows COUNT(); it allows multiplication; it probably allows all the mathematical functions; and all the logical functions. It’s basically 1 and 0; in fact, I pretend it is while I was using it for my formulas.

TRUE() and FALSE() can probably come into use in many places. I have used TRUE() and FALSE() to count of the number of days the teacher needs to come in (and get paid), the number of classes that will be running, and multiplied TRUE() and FALSE() with bookings to calculate the number of people actually attending a class (in contrast to the number of people who want to attend). But I can think of other uses. States. Logic calculations. Simulation of computing processes, although I have no idea why anyone would want to do that.

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