Excel Formula Bot, OpenAI and No-Code

by | Jul 28, 2022

Digging Deeper into the Remarkable Excel Formula Bot

Earlier this week I wrote about the remarkable Excel AI formula bot which turns English descriptions into Excel expressions. For example:

Input: return the smallest non-zero value in a range

Output: =MIN(IF(A1:A10>0,A1:A10))

but in the last few days I have discovered it is even more remarkable than I first though, for two reasons.

  1. it is based on a general Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm and not one tuned to Excel
  2. the idea to create the bot itself was hatched in “conversation” with the same AI

General Excel AI (and SQL AI)

Initially, I presumed that David Bressler, the bot’s creator, had written both the front end UI and the Excel formula generation AI engine.

However, on digging deeper it turns out that it is the the general purpose GPT-3 engine at OpenAI.com which produces the formulas.

This is truly remarkable because this algorithm (to my knowledge) was never trained specifically on Excel. Nonetheless it generates sophisticated Excel expressions e.g. this screenshot is from the OpenAI playground.

It can also do the reverse and explain an existing formula:

But more than that, because it is general it extends to other areas, for example SQL:

And even “understands” the difference between different dialects of SQL:

(even thought I mis-spelled Postgres)

All of this is available in a straightforward API which the Excel Formula Bot calls to get its results.

If you want to play with the OpenAI playground, you can sign up for a free account at https://openai.com/api/.

Perhaps we should produce a connector for Squirrel365 !

An Excel AI Idea Generated by an AI “conversation”

I learned of the role of OpenAI in the Excel formula Bot from a post by its creator Davie Bressler. In the post David explains the genesis of the whole project. (It is mentioned on the front page of the Excel bot itself but in my excitement I must have missed that initially.)

Basically, David was in “conversation” with the OpenAI bot and it suggested the germ of the idea of  the Excel Formula Bot and provided an available domain name for it as well as the underpinning AI technology.

It all makes my head spin a little so perhaps better to read it in David’s own words.

No Code Strikes Again

So it turns out that the Excel Formula Bot is a no-code project pulled together in next to no time from a number underlying technologies through web based APIs.

A glimpse of the future and a story close to our hearts here at Squirrel365.

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