<software application, tool> (Or rarely "worksheet") A type of application program which manipulates numerical and string data in rows and columns of cells. The value in a cell can be calculated from a formula which can involve other cells. A value is recalculated automatically whenever a value on which it depends changes. Different cells may be displayed with different formats.
Some spreadsheet support three-dimensional matrices and cyclic references which lead to iterative calculation.
An essential feature of a spreadsheet is the copy function (often using drag-and-drop). A rectangular area may be copied to another which is a multiple of its size. References between cells may be either absolute or relative in either their horizontal or vertical index. All copies of an absolute reference will refer to the same row, column or cell whereas a relative reference refers to a cell with a given offset from the current cell.
Many spreadsheets have a "What-if" feature. The user gives desired end conditions and assigns several input cells to be automatically varied. An area of the spreadsheet is assigned to show the result of various combinations of input values.
Spreadsheets usually incorporate a macro language, which enables third-party writing of worksheet applications for commercial purposes.
In the 1970s, a screen editor based calculation program called Visi-Calc was introduced. It was probably the first commercial spreadsheet program. Soon Lotus Development Corporation released the more sophisticated Lotus 1-2-3. Clones appeared, (for example VP-Planner from Paperback Software with CGA graphics, Quattro from Borland) but Lotus maintained its position with world-wide marketing and support - and lawyers! For example, Borland was forced to abandon its Lotus-like pop-up menu.
When Microsoft Windows arrived Lotus was still producing the text-based 1-2-3 and Symphony. Meanwhile, Microsoft launched its Excel spreadsheet with interactive graphics, graphic charcters, mouse support and cut-and-paste to and from other Windows applications. To compete with Windows spreadsheets, Lotus launched its Allways add-on for 1-2-3 - a post-processor that produced Windows-quality graphic characters on screen and printer. The release of Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows was late, slow and buggy.
Today, Microsoft, Lotus, Borland and many other companies offer Windows-based spreadsheet programs.
The main end-users of spreadsheets are business and science.
Spreadsheets are an example of a non-algorithmic programming language.
(01 Mar 1995)
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|spread spectrum communications||computing dictionary|
<communications> (Or "spread spectrum") A technique by which a signal to be transmitted is modulated onto a pseudorandom, noise-like, wideband carrier signal, producing a transmission with a much larger bandwidth than that of the data modulation.
Reception is accomplished by cross correlation of the received wide band signal with a synchronously generated replica of the carrier.
Spread-spectrum communications offers many important benefits:
Low probability of detection, interception or determination of the transmitter's location. To an observer who does not possess information about the carrier, the transmission is indistinguishable from other sources of noise.
High immunity against interference and jamming (intentional interference). The presence of (narrowband) interference signals only decreases the channel's signal-to noise ratio and therefore its error rate, which can be dealt with by using error correcting codes. A jammer would have to use wideband interference signals, which would require very high power (again assuming that the jammer does not know the characteristics of the carrier).
High immunity against adverse effects of multipath transmission. In the presence of multiple paths between transmitter and receiver (e.g. by reflected signals), signals of certain frequencies can be cancelled at certain locations when the difference in path delays between multiple propagation paths cause the signals to arrive out of phase. This effect is particularly troublesome in narrowband mobile communications, where it causes "blind spots" - locations where no signal can be received.
Transmitter/receiver pairs using independent random carriers can operate in the same frequency range with minimal interference. These are called Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) systems. Increasing the number of T/R pairs again only gradually increases each channel's error rate. In contrast, narrowband systems can only accomodate a fixed number of channels determined by available bandwidth and channel width (data rate).
When the data modulation cannot be distinguished from the carrier modulation, and the carrier modulation is random to an unwanted observer, the spread spectrum system assumes cryptographic capabilities, with the carrier modulation taking on the function of a key in a cipher system.
The most important practical modes of spread spectrum coding are Direct Sequence (DS) and Frequency Hopping (FH). In DS, a pseudo random sequence is phase-shift-keyed (PSK) onto the carrier. In FH, a frequency synthesizer is driven by a pseudo random sequence of numbers to generate output frequencies that "hop around" in the desired frequency range.
Spread Spectrum development began during World War II, with the earliest studies dating from the 1920s. Most papers remained classified until the 1980s.
Frequency hopping spread spectrum was invented by Hedy Lamarr ("the most beautiful girl in the world", Samson and Delilah etc.) and the composer George Antheil. They held a patent filed in 1942. Direct sequence spread spectrum was invented by Paul Kotowski and Kurt Dannehl at Telefunken.
The technique is used extensively in military communications today. Commercial applications include cellular telephony and mobile networking.
["Spread Spectrum Communications", Charles E. Cook et al (Ed.), IEEE Press, New York, 1983. ISBN 0-87942-170-3].
(01 Jun 2001)
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