|★ APPLICATIONS ★ BUREAUTIQUE ★ AMSTAT 1, 2 , 3 & 4|MicroPlus) ★|
|Amstat 1, 2 , 3 & 4||Applications Bureautique|
Kevin Gould looks at ways to get the truth from your business
Amscat is a suite of four programs which range from a straightforward library of statistics routines (Amstat I and 2) to a quite sophisticated business analysis program. Amstat 3 covers 'Forecasting', and Amstat 4 deals with 'Resource Management'. Amstats 1, 3 and 4 are £27.95, Amstat 2 is £39.95, and all four together come out at £99.95.
Amstat1 and Amstat2
These two packages provide varying specialised statistics functions, useful for processing experimental results and the like.
Having entered a first set of data, I tried to produce a histogram of my results, to find the only response I could obtain was ‘0 DZ'. Does this mean we have no eggs? Back to the manual - to discover a page at the back giving complex instructions on the attachment of the dreaded 'GSX' graphics software. This is explained clearly enough once you realise you need to do it, but it's awkward for beginners.
Apart from a few niggles, such as cumbersome editing facilities, once the mechanics were mastered it was very easy to run the normal statistical tests from Amstat I. These include T-tests, analysis of variance, correlation and regression. Amstat 2 goes into far more complicated routines including Fisher. Chisquare, Kolmogorov-Smirnov, Spearman and Kendall.
Amstats 1 and 2 used in conjunction with the text books quoted in the manual would be an excellent way to conquer statistics, and I would recommend them to any student.
This program is designed as a business tool for industrial and environmental analyses and could well fulfil an important role in the right place - although it does require business planning or statistics expertise.
Amstat3 is the most fun and possibly the most useful of the four Amstat packages. It contains four routines which help you make forecasts by linear regression, polynomial regression, multiple regression or adaptive techniques. The manual for this section includes a tutorial in the principles of the subject.Although heavy going, it explains things well and uses good examples.
After the usual hassle with installing the GSX graphics add-ons, I was soon able to produce graphs and use the calculation routines. Editing data files, however, was extremely long-winded especially with Multiple Regression, which displayed each variable in turn and asked if you wanted to change it. With the example provided, it took 180 presses of the ENTER key to change one data character! Amstat 3 asksB for maximum and minimum data values for plotting its co-ordinates - surely the program should estimate these itself and then ask if you want different limits (as Amstat I did).
On the whole, complex calculations were very accurately and quickly executed. The graph shows the current passenger use of an airline in quarterly periods. Despite the large seasonal fluctuation the 'trend' was successfully calculated and used to predict the next five years' usage.
By now I was used to the menus and entry patterns so it was just a matter of mastering the finer points of Linear Programming as applied to Resource Management. These were excellently described in the manual by clearly worked examples with accompanying graphs, although I had to keep flipping from text, to graph, to problem, to answer.
Once I'd grasped the meaning of‘optimum points', 'slack' and 'shadow price', the package could be made to give very meaningful information and guidance on how to make the best possible use of resources. In the factory example, multiple products can be juggled to produce the optimum production quantities of each, although a little more explanation of the results would be helpful.
The specialised 'TRAN' and 'ASSIGN' routines deal specifically with transportation and allocation problems. They could be invaluable to any business wishing to minimise cost by the efficient use of vehicles, plant or personnel - or even to help time-tabling at colleges.
On the whole I found this to be a well presented set of programs, although a little more checking of data input is required to prevent the programs ‘bombing out' when too high a value is accidentally entered.
Amstat's main buyers will be schools and colleges, who could use it to help with Business Studies, Economics and Human Geography as well as Mathematics and Statistics. Computer Studies students will find some useful programming hints in the manuals. Businessmen could benefit greatly if they can be made confident of the right applications for the system.
The main drawback is that the packages require specialist knowledge to get the best from them - if you can use them properly and understand the results, they seem very good.