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A to Z of Excel Functions: the GROWTH Function

9 March 2020

Welcome back to our regular A to Z of Excel Functions blog.  Today we look at the GROWTH function.

 

The GROWTH function

A window function (also known as an apodization or tapering function) is a mathematical function that has a zero value outside of a chosen interval.  Uniform distributions and the bell curve are two such window functions commonly used in statistics.

Exponential smoothing is what’s known as a rule of thumb technique (i.e. not strictly accurate) for smoothing time series data using the exponential window function.  The aim is to smooth out historical data to predict trends, etc.

The aim is to develop a technique to identify what would be next in a series, i.e. forecast the future.  There are various approaches used:

  • Naïve method: this really does live up to its billing – you simply use the last number in the sequence, e.g. the continuation of the series 8, 17, 13, 15, 19, 14, … would be 14, 14, 14, 14, …  Hmm, great

  • Simple average: only a slightly better idea: here, you use the average of the historical series, e.g. for the continuation of the series 8, 17, 13, 15, 19, 14, … would be 14.3, 14.3, 14.3, 14.3, …  

  • Moving average: now we start to look at smoothing out the trends by taking the average of the last n items.  For example, if n were 3, then the sequence continuation of 8, 17, 13, 15, 19, 14, … would be 16, 16.3, 15.4, 15.9, 15.9, …

  • Weighted moving average: the criticism of the moving average is that older periods carry as much weighting as more recent periods, which is often not the case.  Therefore, a weighted moving average is a moving average where within the sliding window values are given different weights, typically so that more recent points matter more.  For example, instead of selecting a window size, it requires a list of weights (which should add up to 1).  As an illustration, if we picked four periods and [0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4] as weights, we would be giving 10%, 20%, 30% and 40% to the last 4 points respectively which would add up to 1 (which is what it would need to do to compute the average).

    Therefore the continuation of the series 8, 17, 13, 15, 19, 14, … would be 15.6, 15.7, 15.7, 15.5, 15.6, …

These only go so far.  Sometimes, you want to spot non-linear, trends, e.g. sales are based on an exponential growth curve.  The GROWTH function calculates the predicted exponential growth by using existing data.  It returns the y-values (dependent values) for a series of new x-values (independent values) that you specify by using existing x-values and y-values.  Therefore, you may use the GROWTH worksheet function to fit an exponential curve to existing x-values and y-values too.

The GROWTH function employs the following syntax to operate:

GROWTH(known_y's, [known_x's], [new_x's], [constant])


The GROWTH function has the following arguments:

  • known_y's: this is required and represents the set of y-values you already know in the relationship y = b*m^x

    • if the array known_y's is in a single column, then each column of known_x's is interpreted as a separate variable
    • if the array known_y's is in a single row, then each row of known_x's is interpreted as a separate variable
    • if any of the numbers in known_y's is zero or negative, GROWTH returns the #NUM! error value

  • known_x's: this argument is optional and denotes an optional set of x-values that you may already know in the relationship y = b*m^x

    • the array known_x's can include one or more sets of variables.  If only one variable is used, known_y's and known_x's can be ranges of any shape, as long as they have equal dimensions.  If more than one variable is used, known_y's must be a vector (that is, a range with a height of one row or a width of one column)
    • if known_x's is omitted, it is assumed to be the array {1,2,3,...} that is the same size as known_y's

  • new_x's: this is optional.  These are new x-values for which you want GROWTH to return corresponding y-values

    • new_x's must include a column (or row) for each independent variable, just as known_x's does.  Therefore, if known_y's is in a single column, known_x's and new_x's must have the same number of columns.  If known_y's is in a single row, known_x's and new_x's must have the same number of rows
    • if new_x's is omitted, it is assumed to be the same as known_x's
    • if both known_x's and new_x's are omitted, they are assumed to be the array {1,2,3,...} that is the same size as known_y's

  • constant: this is also optional.  This represents a logical value specifying whether to force the constant b to equal 1

    • if constant is TRUE or omitted, b is calculated normally
    • if constant is FALSE, b is set equal to 1 and the m-values are adjusted so that y = m^x.

Further, it should be noted:

  • formulae that return arrays must be entered as array formulae after selecting the correct number of cells
  • when entering an array constant for an argument such as known_x's, use commas to separate values in the same row and semicolons to separate rows.

Please see my example below:

We’ll continue our A to Z of Excel Functions soon.  Keep checking back – there’s a new blog post every other business day.

 

A full page of the function articles can be found here

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