April 9

Generating random qualitative data in a pinch

11  comments

There are plenty of terrific random data generators for Excel out there. But sometimes you just need some fake data qualitative data without the fuss.

For instance, perhaps I want to generate a random list of data points with the values low, medium, or high. A simple method I recommend combines RANDBETWEEN with CHOOSE. Take a look:

=CHOOSE(RANDBETWEEN(1,3), “low”, “medium”, “high”)

All I would need to do now is use the formula above and then drag down to create a list of random, qualitative data.

image

If I want more weight given to a certain variable, say I want low to appear 50% of the time, I can adjust the bounds of my RANDBETWEEN and repeat the data item.

=CHOOSE(RANDBETWEEN(1,4), “low”, “low”, “medium”, “high”)

It’s not the most elegant solution, I admit. But like I said, it does well in a pinch.


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  • I have a similar approach, but I assume rand produces a uniformly distributed distribution, which when multipled by itself acts like the the variable x in x^2. You can then use multiple rands and power commands to produce equations, which become stepwise when one of the round functions are applied. This allows for a rich variation in randomness when you encode the rounded values to qualitative data. I use this to produce simulated web traffic data, which can be used as a practice set for analysts.

  • Example pseudo code: Choose ( roundup ( power (randbetween (1, 4), 2), 0), “low”,”middle”,”high”)

  • Hello Jordan,
    Here is a slightly shorter formula: =CHOOSE(1+4*RAND(), “one”, “low”,”medium”,”high”)
    Best regards. Hervé Thiriez.

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