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### Essential Functions

Now that you know your way around the calculation dialog itself, it's time to start learning more about particular calculation functions. Here we'll present an in-depth tutorial on what we feel are the most essential functions and techniques. These will form a solid base for your own work and for assembling complex formulas. As a reminder, Chapter 14, “Specialized Calculation Functions,” covers advanced calculation formulas and techniques, and there's a complete function reference in Appendix B, “Calculation Function Reference.”

#### The Parts of a Function

Let's begin with a general discussion about what functions do and how to learn about them. Functions are amazing creatures. Their sole mission in life is to act on some set of inputs and produce an output. The inputs are usually referred to as parameters; the function's syntax specifies the number of parameters it expects to be fed, and provides a clue about what the nature of each of those parameters is.

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