A research area of mathematics is being used to simplify spreadsheet formulas by providing users with a library of downloadable spreadsheet components.
Oxford researcher and consultant Jocelyn Paine has set up a Web-based software library for Excel users called the Ireson-Paine Spreadsheet Parts Repository, which will stock modules for users to download and "glue" into their own spreadsheets. These will do calculations that users find difficult or risky to program themselves. Jocelyn wants suggestions for suitable modules.
The idea is based on "category theory" which takes mathematical ideas such as "sum" - putting things together - and abstracts them into universal concepts applicable to diverse situations. Computer scientists can use this concept to formalise what happens when the modules are strong together to make programs.