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A `Visual Spreadsheet' For Number Crunchers

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Anybody who has built large financial models using a spreadsheet program knows about mind-boggling complexity. When all you can see are rows and columns of numbers, it can be exceedingly difficult to grasp the logic of a large model--or to alter it without messing up. Now, DS Group Inc. in Greenwich, Conn., has come out with a "visual spreadsheet" that replaces confusing jumbles of numbers with a graphical outlining method.

The IBM PC-compatible program, called DS Lab, lets you build models essentially by drawing lines between small circles that represent constants and variables. You enter the values of those elements and the arithmetic relationships between them via corresponding pop-up data panels. Designed and built in Italy, the program lists for $995 and is aimed at professionals who work intensively with quantitative models. It's designed to be an adjunct to spreadsheet programs such as Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Excel. An entry-level version, which can handle 100 elements, lists for $195.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG

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