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Gretl logo.png
Screenshot of gretl
Screenshot of gretl
Developer(s)the gretl team
Initial release31 January 2000; 19 years ago (2000-01-31)
Stable release
2019d / 22 December 2019; 29 days ago (2019-12-22)
Preview release
Through git
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC
Operating systemCross-platform
Available inMultilingual (11)
TypeStatistical software
LicenseGNU GPLv3

gretl is an open-source statistical package, mainly for econometrics. The name is an acronym for Gnu Regression, Econometrics and Time-series Library.

It has both a graphical user interface (GUI) and a command-line interface. It is written in C, uses GTK+ as widget toolkit for creating its GUI, and calls gnuplot for generating graphs. The native scripting language of gretl is known as hansl (see below); it can also be used together with TRAMO/SEATS, R, Stata, Python, Octave, Ox and Julia.

gretl can output models as LaTeX files.

Besides English, gretl is also available in Albanian, Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, French, Galician, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (both varieties), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian.

Gretl has been reviewed several times in the Journal of Applied Econometrics[1][2][3] and, more recently, in the Australian Economic Review.[4]

A review also appeared in the Journal of Statistical Software[5] in 2008. Since then, the journal has featured several articles in which gretl is used to implement various statistical techniques.

Supported data formats[edit]

gretl offers its own fully documented, XML-based data format.

It can also import ASCII, CSV, databank, EViews, Excel, Gnumeric, GNU Octave, JMulTi, OpenDocument spreadsheets, PcGive, RATS 4, SAS xport, SPSS, and Stata files. It can export to Stata, GNU Octave, R, CSV, JMulTi, and PcGive file formats.


Gretl has its own scripting language, called hansl (which is a recursive acronym for Hansl's A Neat Scripting Language).

Hansl is a Turing-complete, interpreted programming language, featuring loops, conditionals, user-defined functions and complex data structures.[6] It can be considered a domain-specific language for econometrics.[7] Like other scientifically oriented programming languages, such as MATLAB and Julia, matrices are supported natively as a primitive variable type. The gretl add-ons known as function packages are written in hansl.[8]

Here's a simple example of hansl

matrix A = {1, 2 ; 3, 4}
matrix B = inv(A)
matrix C = A*B

print A B C

loop i=-3..3
    printf "Phi(%d) = %7.3f\n", i, cdf(N, i)

Running the above code produces

A (2 x 2)

  1   2 
  3   4

B (2 x 2)

    -2      1 
   1.5   -0.5

C (2 x 2)

      1.0000       0.0000 
  8.8818e-16       1.0000

Phi(-3) =   0.001
Phi(-2) =   0.023
Phi(-1) =   0.159
Phi( 0) =   0.500
Phi( 1) =   0.841
Phi( 2) =   0.977
Phi( 3) =   0.999

Random Number Generation[edit]

Random Number Generation (RNG) in gretl has been examined and tested in Yalta & Schreiber (2012)[9] . The authors conclude "Our results show that the RNG related procedures in gretl are implemented soundly and perform well in the three crush test suites of the TestU01".

Gretl as a teaching tool[edit]

Due to its libre nature and the breadth of econometric techniques it contains, gretl is widely used for teaching econometrics, from the undergraduate level onwards. Datasets in gretl format are available for several popular textbooks.

The following is a list of textbooks that use gretl as their software of choice:

  • Dougherty, Christopher Introduction to Econometrics (Oxford University Press)
  • Kufel, Tadeusz Ekonometria (Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN); in Polish (Russian version also available)

In addition, a free supplement[10] to Hill, Griffiths and Lim Principles of Econometrics (Wiley) is available.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baiocchi, Giovanni; Distaso, Walter (2003). "GRETL: Econometric software for the GNU generation". Journal of Applied Econometrics. 18: 105–110. CiteSeerX doi:10.1002/jae.704.
  2. ^ "GRETL: 1.6.0 and its numerical accuracy". Archived from the original on 2012-12-16. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Mixon Jr, J. Wilson; Smith, Ryan J. (2006). "Teaching undergraduate econometrics with GRETL". Journal of Applied Econometrics. 21 (7): 1103–1107. doi:10.1002/jae.927.
  4. ^ Tarassow, Artur (2019). "Practical Empirical Research Using gretl and hansl". Australian Economic Review. 52 (2): 255–271. doi:10.1111/1467-8462.12324.
  5. ^ Rosenblad, Andreas (2008). "gretl 1.7.3". Journal of Statistical Software. 25 (1): 1–14. doi:10.18637/jss.v025.s01.
  6. ^ "A Hansl Primer" (PDF).
  7. ^ Cottrell, Allin (2017). "Hansl". Hansl: a DSL for econometrics. pp. 1–10. doi:10.1145/3039895.3039896. ISBN 9781450348454.
  8. ^ "gretl function packages".
  9. ^ Yalta, A. Talha; Schreiber, Sven (2012). "Random Number Generation ingretl". Journal of Statistical Software. 50 (Code Snippet 1). doi:10.18637/jss.v050.c01. ISSN 1548-7660.
  10. ^ "Lee Adkins' book".

External links[edit]