What Is the Difference Between Rows and Columns?

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The normal convention is that rows run horizontally, while columns run vertically. Rows and columns are used to describe many geometrical arrangements, including the distribution of cells within computer spreadsheets.

Spreadsheets are high-level computer programs that are used to store and analyze data. VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program, and it was originally released for the Apple II personal computer in 1979. The spreadsheet is widely considered the first computer program that transformed the personal computer into a serious tool for business calculations and use. VisiCalc offered a small spreadsheet of only 254 rows by 63 columns, whereas contemporary spreadsheets can reach over 1 million rows by 16,000 columns.

Rows and columns are a convenient geometrical arranging tool to divide any data set, such as a grid on a map. In fact, latitude and longitude serve as rows and columns, respectively, on the geographical grid of a map of Earth and can be applied to any planetary body.

Rows and columns are also commonly used for describing seating arrangements, such as in a classroom. In mathematics, a matrix is an array of numbers, expressions or symbols that are arranged into rows and columns. Matrices are used in a wide variety of scientific and engineering fields.