On the semantics for spreadsheets with sheet-defined functions

Alexander Asp Bock, Thomas Bøgholm, Peter Sestoft, Bent Thomsen, Lone Leth Thomsen

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We give an operational semantics for the evaluation of spreadsheets, including sheet-defined and built-in numeric functions in the Funcalc spreadsheet platform. The semantics allows for different implementations and we discuss sheet-defined functions implemented using both interpretation and run-time code generation. The semantics specifies the expected result of a computation, also considering non-deterministic functions, independently of an evaluation mechanism. It can be extended to include the cost of formula evaluation for a cost analysis e.g. for use in parallelization of computations. An interesting future direction is to investigate experimentally how close our semantics is to that of major spreadsheet implementations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100960
JournalJournal of Computer Languages
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Spreadsheet
  • Semantics
  • Funcalc
  • Sheet-defined function
  • Recalculation


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