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excel – Java POI FormulaEvaluator giving unexpected floating point value

Posted by: admin May 14, 2020 Leave a comment


I am using Java POI library to read an Excel file and then display it in HTML table. The Excel file is very simple with 1 row and 3 columns:

A1 cell= 21.7
B1 cell= 20.0
C1 cell is a formula cell with the formula =(A1-B1)/B1 and it has a custom format of “Percentage” with 0 decimal places. Excel displays its value as 9%. This is because 1.7/20 on a calculator gives result as 0.085; when it is converted to “Percentage” format it becomes 8.5% and because format says include 0 decimal places, it gets rounded up to 9%, so that’s what Excel displays. All good.

However, POI displays the value as 8% instead. I observe that 1.7/20 is calculated to be 0.084999999. Because of the Percentage format as applied above it converts to 8.4999999% and because of 0 decimal places, it gets rounded down to 8%.

How can I have POI return me 9% instead of 8%? Here is the code snippet:

String myFormat="0%";
CreationHelper helper = wbWrapper.getWb().getCreationHelper();
CellUtil.setCellStyleProperty(cell, CellUtil.DATA_FORMAT,helper.createDataFormat().getFormat(myFormat));
String val = dataFormatter.formatCellValue(cell, evaluator);

Here evaluator is an instance of org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.FormulaEvaluator and dataFormatter is an instance of org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.DataFormatter

When I print the variable “val” it is returning 8% instead of what is displayed in Excel (9%).

How to&Answers:

Your observations are correct. The problem occurs because of the general floating point problems. It can simply be shown:

System.out.println(1.7/20.0); //0.08499999999999999
System.out.println((21.7-20.0)/20.0); //0.08499999999999996

As you see, the division of double value 1.7 by double value 20.0 results in 0.08499999999999999. This would be fine since this value would be taken as 0.085 using DecimalFormat. But the more complex equation (21.7-20.0)/20.0 results in 0.08499999999999996. And this clearly is lower than 0.085 .

Excel tries solving those problems by an additional rule for floating point values. It always uses only 15 significant decimal digits of an floating point value. So Excel does something like :

BigDecimal bd = new BigDecimal((21.7-20.0)/20.0);
System.out.println(bd.round(new MathContext(15)).doubleValue()); //0.085

Neither apache poi‘s FormulaEvaluator nor it’s DataFormatter behaves like Excel in this point. That’s why the difference.

One could have an own MyDataFormatter where the only difference to /org/apache/poi/ss/usermodel/DataFormatter.java is:

    private String getFormattedNumberString(Cell cell, ConditionalFormattingEvaluator cfEvaluator) {
        if (cell == null) {
            return null;
        Format numberFormat = getFormat(cell, cfEvaluator);

        double d = cell.getNumericCellValue();
        java.math.BigDecimal bd = new java.math.BigDecimal(d);
        d = bd.round(new java.math.MathContext(15)).doubleValue();

        if (numberFormat == null) {
            return String.valueOf(d);
        String formatted = numberFormat.format(Double.valueOf(d));
        return formatted.replaceFirst("E(\d)", "E+$1"); // to match Excel's E-notation

Then using that MyDataFormatter instead of DataFormatter would be more compatible to Excel‘s behavior.


import java.io.FileOutputStream;

import org.apache.poi.ss.usermodel.*;
import org.apache.poi.ss.util.*;
import org.apache.poi.xssf.usermodel.XSSFWorkbook;

class CreateExcelEvaluateFormula {

 public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {

  Workbook workbook  = new XSSFWorkbook();
  CreationHelper creationHelper = workbook.getCreationHelper();
  FormulaEvaluator formulaEvaluator = creationHelper.createFormulaEvaluator();

  Sheet sheet = workbook.createSheet();
  Row row = sheet.createRow(0);
  Cell cell = row.createCell(0); cell.setCellValue(21.7);
  cell = row.createCell(1); cell.setCellValue(20.0);

  cell = row.createCell(2); cell.setCellFormula("(A1-B1)/B1");
  double d = cell.getNumericCellValue();
System.out.println(d); //0.08499999999999996

  MyDataFormatter dataFormatter = new MyDataFormatter();

  String myFormat="0%";
  CellUtil.setCellStyleProperty(cell, CellUtil.DATA_FORMAT, creationHelper.createDataFormat().getFormat(myFormat));
  String val = dataFormatter.formatCellValue(cell, formulaEvaluator);
  System.out.println(val); //9%

  FileOutputStream out = new FileOutputStream("Excel.xlsx");