How to Use Excel’s Solver and Goal Seek Functions for Statistics Problems

Statistical analysis plays a crucial role in research and decision-making processes. Excel offers various powerful tools to help professionals and students conduct statistical analysis. Two of these tools are Solver and Goal Seek. Solver is a mathematical optimization technique that calculates the ideal values for a set of related functions. On the other hand, Goal Seek is a simple but powerful function that is used to find the input data required to achieve a desirable output. This article provides a guide on how to use Excel’s Solver and Goal Seek tools to aid you in statistical analysis.

Understanding Solver for Statistics Problems

Solver comes in handy when optimizing problems in mathematical models. Here’s what you should know:

Install Solver in Excel

Before you can use Solver, it needs to be installed and enabled on your Excel program. To install Solver, follow these steps:

  • Click on the “File” tab, select “Options,” and choose “Add-ins.”
  •  Under “Manage” select “Excel Add-ins” and click on “Go.
  •  Check the “Solver Add-in” box and click “OK.”
  •  Solver is now enabled, and its function will appear under the Data tab.


 Inputting Data and Constraints in Solver

The objective function or calculation to be optimized must be inputted into Solver. Here’s how:

Select “Solver” from the “Data” tab and click on “Add” under the formula bar.

Set the objective cell to the cell that contains the function that you would like to optimize.

Choose variables that are subject to change and any constraints that apply.


 Running Solver and Interpreting the Results

Once you have entered all the required data, you can now run Solver and interpret the result.

Click on the “Solve” button, and Excel will calculate the optimal solution.

Solver displays the result summary dialog box upon completion.

 Examples of Solver Application in Statistical Data

Linear programming problems such as linear regression models

Non-linear models such as exponential and polynomial regression


 Utilizing Goal Seek for Statistics Problems

Goal Seek can help find input data required to achieve a desirable output. Here’s how:

Setting up Goal Seek in Excel

On the “Data” tab, select “What-If Analysis” and click on “Goal Seek.”

Input the objective cell, desired result (the value you want the formula to return), and the changing cell.

Click on “OK,” and Excel will attempt to provide the required input data to produce the desired result.

 Goal Seek Example with Statistical Data

Find the required input data to achieve a mean of 80 in a set of numbers.

Advanced Solver and Goal Seek Techniques

Solver and Goal Seek have advanced settings that are useful for more complex problems. Here’s what you should know:

Advanced Feature Settings of Solver and Goal Seek

Solver and Goal Seek have several advanced features that are useful in more complicated optimization tasks, including:

  •  Setting up multiple constraints
  •  Using assumptions or variable data collection
  • Choosing the method for calculation (GRG Nonlinear, Simplex LP, etc.)


 Application of Solver and Goal Seek in Complex Statistical Problems

  •  Solving systems of equations
  • Finding the best fit to non-linear models
  •  Developing optimization problems with many constraints.


Troubleshooting Common Errors in Solver and Goal Seek

Solver and Goal Seek can sometimes result in errors that need to be resolved. Here’s what to do:

 Common Errors in Solver’s Calculations and Remedies

  • Solver’s “Infeasible Solution” error
  • Solver’s “Unbounded Solution” error
  •  Solver not finding a suitable solution

 Common Errors in Goal Seek’s Calculations and Remedies

Goal Seek’s “Circular References” error

Goal Seek’s “No Solution Found” error


In conclusion, Solver and Goal Seek are valuable tools in statistical analysis. Solver helps optimize complex problems by minimizing or maximizing a function, while Goal Seek helps find the input data required to achieve a desirable output. These tools are essential in many areas of statistical analysis, and this guide offers a comprehensive overview of how to use them.



Q. What is the difference between Solver and Goal Seek functions?

Solver is used to optimize mathematical models with complex problems, while Goal Seek finds input data to achieve a desirable output.

Q. How do I enable Solver in Excel for my data analysis?

Click on the “File” tab, select “Options,” and choose “Add-ins.” Under “Manage”, select “Excel Add-ins” and click on “Go.” Check the “Solver Add-in” box and click “OK.”

Q. What kind of statistical problems can Solver and Goal Seek help me with?

Solver and Goal Seek can help with finding the best fit models, optimization problems with many constraints, solving systems of equations, linear and non-linear programming problems.

Q.What is an “objective function,” and how is it used in Solver?

An objective function is what Solver will try to optimize. It is used in Solver to find the optimal solution for a given problem.

Q. Can I use Solver and Goal Seek for non-numerical Excel data types?

Solver and Goal Seek are only suitable for numerical data types.

Q. How do I know if Solver has found the optimal solution for my problem?

Solver displays the “Solver Results” dialog box when it has found the optimal solution.

Q. Can Solver and Goal Seek help me find outliers in my data?

No, Solver and Goal Seek are optimization tools and are not suitable for finding outliers.

With this information, you can confidently utilize Solver and Goal Seek to solve complex mathematical models and make data-driven decisions with ease.

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