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Subject: Re: [office] Fw: [members] OASIS TC Call for Participation: OASISUnitsML TC

robert_weir@us.ibm.com wrote:
> Saw this come through today.
> Crazy idea, but has anyone seen a spreadsheet that was sensitive to 
> metrical units?  So I could put "1 m" in A1, "1 cm" in A2 and =A1+A2 
> in A3 and have it come out as 1.01 m or 1101 cm, with units converting 
> automatically and perhaps giving an error condition if incompatible 
> units were mixed, e.g., inches added to seconds.
> If we can make a cell bold, or format it as currency, why not be able 
> to apply a "meters" tag to it, to clarify the units?
> A spreadsheet that tracked units, autoconverted units and warned of 
> unit mismatches would be a killer feature for scientific/engineering use.
> So, this UnitsML spec might be worth tracking to see if there is some 
> interesting innovation we can do in this area in a future (2007? 
> 2008?) ODF release.

I don't know of any spreadsheets that have this general functionality, 
but you're
right, it's a very interesting idea.  It would really just automate what 
do by hand, but the possibility of automatically detecting mistakes 
would be very
worthwhile.  One potential problem is the syntax.

There are many general-purpose libraries that do something like this.
Here's a LISP one:
One person tried to do this in Ada directly, by abusing its type system,
but that didn't work out well:

As far as I can tell, all unit conversion systems expand until they can 
* Farenheit-Celsius conversions (a non-multiplicative conversion)
* Furlongs per fortnight.

--- David A. Wheeler

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