Component: (Network and Table)
Slicers (applies to each fact value in each table cell)
Accounting Policies [Abstract]Period [Axis]
2011-11-01 - 2012-10-31
Accounting Policies [Abstract]
Principles of consolidation
Principles of consolidation.    The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the company and our wholly- and majority-owned subsidiaries. All significant intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated.
Use of estimates
Use of estimates.    The preparation of financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S. requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. Management bases its estimates on historical experience and various other assumptions believed to be reasonable. Although these estimates are based on management's best knowledge of current events and actions that may impact the company in the future, actual results may be different from the estimates. Our critical accounting policies are those that affect our financial statements materially and involve difficult, subjective or complex judgments by management. Those policies are revenue recognition, inventory valuation, share-based compensation, retirement and post-retirement plan assumptions, valuation of goodwill and purchased intangible assets and accounting for income taxes.
Revenue recognition
Revenue recognition.    We enter into agreements to sell products (hardware and/or software), services and other arrangements (multiple element arrangements) that include combinations of products and services.

We recognize revenue, net of trade discounts and allowances, provided that (1) persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, (2) delivery has occurred, (3) the price is fixed or determinable and (4) collectibility is reasonably assured. Delivery is considered to have occurred when title and risk of loss have transferred to the customer, for products, or when the service has been provided. We consider the price to be fixed or determinable when the price is not subject to refund or adjustments. We consider arrangements with extended payment terms not to be fixed or determinable, and accordingly we defer revenue until amounts become due. At the time of the transaction, we evaluate the creditworthiness of our customers to determine the appropriate timing of revenue recognition.

Product revenue.    Our product revenue is generated predominantly from the sales of various types of test equipment. Product revenue, including sales to resellers and distributors, is reduced for estimated returns, when appropriate. For sales or arrangements that include customer-specified acceptance criteria, including those where acceptance is required upon achievement of performance milestones, revenue is recognized after the acceptance criteria have been met. For products that include installation, if the installation meets the criteria to be considered a separate element, product revenue is recognized upon delivery, and recognition of installation revenue is delayed until the installation is complete. Otherwise, neither the product nor the installation revenue is recognized until the installation is complete.

Where software is licensed separately, revenue is recognized when the software is delivered and has been transferred to the customer or, in the case of electronic delivery of software, when the customer is given access to the licensed software programs. We also evaluate whether collection of the receivable is probable, the fee is fixed or determinable and whether any other undelivered elements of the arrangement exist on which a portion of the total fee would be allocated based on vendor-specific objective evidence.

Service revenue.    Revenue from services includes extended warranty, customer support, consulting, training and education. Service revenue is deferred and recognized over the contractual period or as services are rendered and accepted by the customer. For example, customer support contracts are recognized ratably over the contractual period, while training revenue is recognized as the training is provided to the customer. In addition the four revenue recognition criteria described above must be met before service revenue is recognized.

Revenue Recognition for Arrangements with Multiple Deliverables.    Our multiple-element arrangements are generally comprised of a combination of measurement instruments, installation or other start-up services and/or software and/or support or services. Hardware and software elements are typically delivered at the same time and revenue is recognized upon delivery once title and risk of loss pass to the customer. Delivery of installation, start-up services and other services varies based on the complexity of the equipment, staffing levels in a geographic location and customer preferences, and can range from a few days to a few months. Service revenue is deferred and recognized over the contractual period or as services are rendered and accepted by the customer. Revenue from the sale of software products that are not required to deliver the tangible product's essential functionality are accounted for under software revenue recognition rules which require vendor specific objective evidence ("VSOE") of fair value to allocate revenue in a multiple element arrangement. Our arrangements generally do not include any provisions for cancellation, termination, or refunds that would significantly impact recognized revenue.

We have evaluated the deliverables in our multiple-element arrangements and concluded that they are separate units of accounting if the delivered item or items have value to the customer on a standalone basis and for an arrangement that includes a general right of return relative to the delivered item(s), delivery or performance of the undelivered item(s) is considered probable and substantially in our control. We allocate revenue to each element in our multiple-element arrangements based upon their relative selling prices. We determine the selling price for each deliverable based on a selling price hierarchy. The selling price for a deliverable is based on VSOE if available, third-party evidence ("TPE") if VSOE is not available, or estimated selling price ("ESP") if neither VSOE nor TPE is available. Revenue allocated to each element is then recognized when the basic revenue recognition criteria for that element have been met.

We use VSOE of selling price in the selling price allocation in all instances where it exists. VSOE of selling price for products and services is determined when a substantial majority of the selling prices fall within a reasonable range when sold separately. TPE of selling price can be established by evaluating largely interchangeable competitor products or services in standalone sales to similarly situated customers. As our products contain a significant element of proprietary technology and the solution offered differs substantially from that of competitors, it is difficult to obtain the reliable standalone competitive pricing necessary to establish TPE. ESP represents the best estimate of the price at which we would transact a sale if the product or service were sold on a standalone basis. We determine ESP for a product or service by using historical selling prices which reflect multiple factors including, but not limited to customer type, geography, market conditions, competitive landscape, gross margin objectives and pricing practices. The determination of ESP is made through consultation with and approval by management. We may modify or develop new pricing practices and strategies in the future. As these pricing strategies evolve, we may modify our pricing practices in the future, which may result in changes in ESP. The aforementioned factors may result in a different allocation of revenue to the deliverables in multiple element arrangements, which may change the pattern and timing of revenue recognition for these elements but will not change the total revenue recognized for the arrangement.

Deferred revenue.    Deferred revenue represents the amount that is allocated to undelivered elements in multiple element arrangements. We limit the revenue recognized to the amount that is not contingent on the future delivery of products or services or meeting other specified performance conditions.

Accounts receivable, net
Accounts receivable, net.    Trade accounts receivable are recorded at the invoiced amount and do not bear interest. Such accounts receivable has been reduced by an allowance for doubtful accounts, which is our best estimate of the amount of probable credit losses in our existing accounts receivable. We determine the allowance based on customer specific experience and the aging of such receivables, among other factors. The allowance for doubtful accounts as of October 31, 2012 and 2011 was not material. We do not have any off-balance-sheet credit exposure related to our customers. Accounts receivable are also recorded net of product returns.

Share-based compensation
Share-based compensation.    For the years ended 2012, 2011 and 2010, we accounted for share-based awards made to our employees and directors including employee stock option awards, restricted stock units, employee stock purchases made under our Employee Stock Purchase Plan ("ESPP") and performance share awards under Agilent Technologies, Inc. Long-Term Performance Program ("LTPP") using the estimated grant date fair value method of accounting. Under the fair value method, we recorded compensation expense for all share-based awards of $76 million in 2012, $73 million in 2011 and $66 million in 2010.

Inventory.    Inventory is valued at standard cost, which approximates actual cost computed on a first-in, first-out basis, not in excess of market value. We assess the valuation of our inventory on a periodic basis and make adjustments to the value for estimated excess and obsolete inventory based on estimates about future demand. The excess balance determined by this analysis becomes the basis for our excess inventory charge. Our excess inventory review process includes analysis of sales forecasts, managing product rollovers and working with manufacturing to maximize recovery of excess inventory.
Warranty.    Our standard warranty terms typically extend for one year from the date of delivery. We accrue for standard warranty costs based on historical trends in warranty charges as a percentage of net product revenue. The accrual is reviewed regularly and periodically adjusted to reflect changes in warranty cost estimates. Estimated warranty charges are recorded within cost of products at the time products are sold. See Note 16, "Guarantees".

Taxes on income
Taxes on income.    Income tax expense or benefit is based on income or loss before taxes. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized principally for the expected tax consequences of temporary differences between the tax bases of assets and liabilities and their reported amounts.
Shipping and handling costs
Shipping and handling costs.    Our shipping and handling costs charged to customers are included in net revenue, and the associated expense is recorded in cost of products for all periods presented.
Goodwill and Purchased Intangible Assets
Goodwill and Purchased Intangible Assets.    In September 2011, the FASB approved changes to the goodwill impairment guidance which are intended to reduce the cost and complexity of the annual impairment test. The changes provide entities an option to perform a qualitative assessment to determine whether further impairment testing is necessary. The revised standard gives an entity the option to first assess qualitative factors to determine whether performing the current two-step test is necessary. If an entity believes, as a result of its qualitative assessment, that it is more-likely-than-not (i.e. > 50% chance) that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, the quantitative impairment test will be required. Otherwise, no further testing will be required.

The revised guidance includes examples of events and circumstances that might indicate that a reporting unit's fair value is less than its carrying amount. These include macro-economic conditions such as deterioration in the entity's operating environment or industry or market considerations; entity-specific events such as increasing costs, declining financial performance, or loss of key personnel; or other events such as an expectation that a reporting unit will be sold or a sustained decrease in the stock price on either an absolute basis or relative to peers. Agilent opted to early adopt this guidance for the year ended October 31, 2011.

If it is determined, as a result of the qualitative assessment, that it is more-likely-than-not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, the provisions of authoritative guidance require that we perform a two-step impairment test on goodwill. In the first step, we compare the fair value of each reporting unit to its carrying value. The second step (if necessary) measures the amount of impairment by applying fair-value-based tests to the individual assets and liabilities within each reporting unit. As defined in the authoritative guidance, a reporting unit is an operating segment, or one level below an operating segment. We aggregated components of an operating segment that have similar economic characteristics into our reporting units. Subsequent to October 31, 2011, we formed a fourth segment, diagnostics and genomics, from a portion of our life sciences segment. As a result, Agilent now has four segments, life sciences, chemical analysis, diagnostics and genomics and electronic measurement, which are the same as our reporting units. In fiscal year 2012, we assessed goodwill impairment for our reporting units; life sciences, chemical analysis, diagnostics and genomics, and electronic measurement. Based on our results of our qualitative test for goodwill impairment, by reporting unit, as of September 30, 2012, we believe that it is more-likely-than-not that the fair value of each of our reporting units, life sciences, chemical analysis, diagnostics and genomics and electronic measurement is greater than their respective carrying values. There was no impairment of goodwill during the years ended October 31, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Purchased intangible assets consist primarily of acquired developed technologies, proprietary know-how, trademarks, and customer relationships and are amortized using the straight-line method over estimated useful lives ranging from 6 months to 15 years. In-process research and development ("IPR&D") is initially capitalized at fair value as an intangible asset with an indefinite life and assessed for impairment thereafter. When the IPR&D project is complete, it is reclassified as an amortizable purchased intangible asset and is amortized over its estimated useful life. If an IPR&D project is abandoned, Agilent will record a charge for the value of the related intangible asset to Agilent's consolidated statement of operations in the period it is abandoned.

In July 2012, the FASB simplified the guidance for testing for impairment of indefinite-lived intangible assets other than goodwill. The changes are intended to reduce compliance costs. Agilent's indefinite-lived intangible assets are in the IPR&D intangible assets. The revised guidance allows a qualitative approach for testing indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment, similar to the recently issued impairment testing guidance for goodwill and allows the option to first assess qualitative factors (events and circumstances) that could have affected the significant inputs used in determining the fair value of the indefinite-lived intangible asset to determine whether it is more likely than not (meaning a likelihood of more than 50 percent) that the indefinite-lived intangible asset is impaired. An organization may choose to bypass the qualitative assessment for any indefinite-lived intangible asset in any period and proceed directly to calculating its fair value. The amendments are effective for annual and interim impairment tests performed for fiscal years beginning after September 15, 2012. Early adoption is permitted. Agilent adopted this guidance for the year ended October 31, 2012. We recorded an impairment of $1 million in 2012, relating to an IPR&D project that was abandoned. No impairments were recorded in 2011 and 2010.

Advertising.    Advertising costs are expensed as incurred and amounted to $50 million in 2012, $55 million in 2011 and $45 million in 2010.
Research and development
Research and development.    Costs related to research, design and development of our products are charged to research and development expense as they are incurred.

Sales Taxes
Sales Taxes.    Sales taxes collected from customers and remitted to governmental authorities are not included in our revenue.

Net income (loss) per share
Net income per share.    Basic net income per share is computed by dividing net income - the numerator - by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding - the denominator - during the period excluding the dilutive effect of stock options and other employee stock plans. Diluted net income per share gives effect to all potentially dilutive common stock equivalents outstanding during the period. The dilutive effect of share-based awards is reflected in diluted net income per share by application of the treasury stock method, which includes consideration of unamortized share-based compensation expense, the tax shortfalls charged to additional paid-in capital and the dilutive effect of in-the-money options and non-vested restricted stock units. Under the treasury stock method, the amount the employee must pay for exercising stock options and unamortized share-based compensation expense less tax shortfalls is assumed proceeds to be used to repurchase hypothetical shares. See Note 6, "Net Income Per Share".
Cash, cash equivalents and short term investments
Cash, cash equivalents and short term investments.    We classify investments as cash equivalents if their original or remaining maturity is three months or less at the date of purchase. Cash equivalents are stated at cost, which approximates fair value.

As of October 31, 2012, approximately $2.2 billion of our cash and cash equivalents is held outside of the U.S. in our foreign subsidiaries. Under current tax laws, most of the cash could be repatriated to the U.S. but it would be subject to U.S. federal and state income taxes, less applicable foreign tax credits. Our cash and cash equivalents mainly consist of short term deposits held at major global financial institutions, institutional money market funds, and similar short duration instruments with original maturities of 90 days or less. We continuously monitor the creditworthiness of the financial institutions and institutional money market funds in which we invest our funds.

We classify investments as short-term investments if their original maturities are greater than three months and their remaining maturities are one year or less.

Fair Value of Financial Instruments
Fair Value of Financial Instruments.    The carrying values of certain of our financial instruments including cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, accounts payable, accrued compensation and other accrued liabilities approximate fair value because of their short maturities. The fair value of long-term equity investments is determined using quoted market prices for those securities when available. For those long-term equity investments accounted for under the cost method, their carrying value approximates their estimated fair value. The fair value of our short-term and long-term debt, calculated from quoted prices which are primarily Level 1 inputs under the accounting guidance fair value hierarchy, exceeds the carrying value by approximately $4 million and $210 million, respectively, as of October 31, 2012. The fair value of foreign currency contracts used for hedging purposes is estimated internally by using inputs tied to active markets. These inputs, for example, interest rate yield curves, foreign exchange rates, and forward and spot prices for currencies are observable in the market or can be corroborated by observable market data for substantially the full term of the assets or liabilities. See also Note 12, "Fair Value Measurements" for additional information on the fair value of financial instruments.

Concentration of credit risk
Concentration of credit risk.    Financial instruments that potentially subject Agilent to significant concentration of credit risk include money market fund investments, time deposits and demand deposit balances. These investments are categorized as cash and cash equivalents and long-term investments. In addition, Agilent has credit risk from derivative financial instruments used in hedging activities and accounts receivable. We invest in a variety of financial instruments and limit the amount of credit exposure with any one financial institution. We have a comprehensive credit policy in place and credit exposure is monitored on an ongoing basis.

Credit risk with respect to our accounts receivable is diversified due to the large number of entities comprising our customer base and their dispersion across many different industries and geographies. Credit evaluations are performed on customers requiring credit over a certain amount and we sell the majority of our products through our direct sales force. Credit risk is mitigated through collateral such as letter of credit, bank guarantees or payment terms like cash in advance. Credit evaluation is performed by an independent team to ensure proper segregation of duties. No single customer accounted for more than 10 percent of combined accounts receivable as of October 31, 2012, or 2011.
Derivative instruments
Derivative instruments.    Agilent is exposed to global foreign currency exchange rate and interest rate risks in the normal course of business. We enter into foreign exchange hedging contracts, primarily forward contracts and purchased options and, in the past, interest rate swaps to manage financial exposures resulting from changes in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates. In the vast majority of cases, these contracts are designated at inception as hedges of the related foreign currency or interest exposures. Foreign currency exposures include committed and anticipated revenue and expense transactions and assets and liabilities that are denominated in currencies other than the functional currency of the subsidiary. Interest rate exposures are associated with the company's fixed-rate debt. For option contracts, we exclude time value from the measurement of effectiveness. To qualify for hedge accounting, contracts must reduce the foreign currency exchange rate and interest rate risk otherwise inherent in the amount and duration of the hedged exposures and comply with established risk management policies; foreign exchange hedging contracts generally mature within twelve months and interest rate swaps mature at the same time as the maturity of the debt. In order to manage foreign currency exposures in a few limited jurisdictions, such as China, we may enter into foreign exchange contracts that do not qualify for hedge accounting. In such circumstances, the local foreign currency exposure is offset by contracts owned by the parent company. We do not use derivative financial instruments for speculative trading purposes.

All derivatives are recognized on the balance sheet at their fair values. For derivative instruments that are designated and qualify as a fair value hedge, changes in value of the derivative are recognized in the consolidated statement of operations in the current period, along with the offsetting gain or loss on the hedged item attributable to the hedged risk. For derivative instruments that are designated and qualify as a cash flow hedges, changes in the value of the effective portion of the derivative instrument is recognized in accumulated comprehensive income, a component of stockholders' equity. Amounts associated with cash flow hedges are reclassified and recognized in income when either the forecasted transaction occurs or it becomes probable the forecasted transaction will not occur. Derivatives not designated as hedging instruments are recorded on the balance sheet at their fair value and changes in the fair values are recorded in the income statement in the current period. Derivative instruments are subject to master netting arrangements and qualify for net presentation in the balance sheet. Changes in the fair value of the ineffective portion of derivative instruments are recognized in earnings in the current period. Ineffectiveness in 2012, 2011 and 2010 was not significant.

Property, plant and equipment
Property, plant and equipment.    Property, plant and equipment are stated at cost less accumulated depreciation. Additions, improvements and major renewals are capitalized; maintenance, repairs and minor renewals are expensed as incurred. When assets are retired or disposed of, the assets and related accumulated depreciation and amortization are removed from our general ledger, and the resulting gain or loss is reflected in the consolidated statement of operations. Buildings and improvements are depreciated over the lesser of their useful lives or the remaining term of the lease and machinery and equipment over three to ten years. We use the straight-line method to depreciate assets.

Leases.    We lease buildings, machinery and equipment under operating leases for original terms ranging generally from 1 year to 20 years. Certain leases contain renewal options for periods up to 6 years.
Capitalized software
Capitalized software.    We capitalize certain internal and external costs incurred to acquire or create internal use software. Capitalized software is included in property, plant and equipment and is depreciated over three to five years once development is complete.
Impairment of long-lived assets
Impairment of long-lived assets.    We continually monitor events and changes in circumstances that could indicate carrying amounts of long-lived assets, including intangible assets, may not be recoverable. When such events or changes in circumstances occur, we assess the recoverability of long-lived assets by determining whether the carrying value of such assets will be recovered through undiscounted expected future cash flows. If the total of the undiscounted future cash flows is less than the carrying amount of those assets, we recognize an impairment loss based on the excess of the carrying amount over the fair value of the assets.

Restructuring and asset impairments
Restructuring and asset impairment charges.    The four main components of past restructuring plans are related to workforce reductions, the consolidation of excess facilities, asset impairments and special charges related to inventory. Workforce reduction charges are accrued when it is determined that a liability has been incurred, which is generally after individuals have been notified of their termination dates and expected severance payments. Plans to consolidate excess facilities result in charges for lease termination fees and future commitments to pay lease charges, net of estimated future sublease income. We recognize charges for consolidation of excess facilities generally when we have vacated the premises. These estimates were derived using the authoritative accounting guidance. We have also assessed the recoverability of our long-lived assets, by determining whether the carrying value of such assets will be recovered through undiscounted future cash flows. Asset impairments primarily consist of property, plant and equipment and are based on an estimate of the amounts and timing of future cash flows related to the expected future remaining use and ultimate sale or disposal of buildings and equipment net of costs to sell. The charges related to inventory include estimated future inventory disposal payments that we are contractually obliged to make to our suppliers and reserves taken against inventory on hand. If the amounts and timing of cash flows from restructuring activities are significantly different from what we have estimated, the actual amount of restructuring and asset impairment charges could be materially different, either higher or lower, than those we have recorded.
Employee compensation and benefits
Employee compensation and benefits.    Amounts owed to employees, such as accrued salary, bonuses and vacation benefits are accounted for within employee compensation and benefits. The total amount of accrued vacation benefit was $156 million and $144 million as of October 31, 2012, and 2011, respectively.

Foreign currency translation
Foreign currency translation.    We translate and remeasure balance sheet and income statement items into U.S. dollars. For those subsidiaries that operate in a local currency functional environment, all assets and liabilities are translated into U.S. dollars using current exchange rates at the balance sheet date; revenue and expenses are translated using monthly exchange rates which approximate to average exchange rates in effect during each period. Resulting translation adjustments are reported as a separate component of accumulated comprehensive loss in stockholders' equity.

For those subsidiaries that operate in a U.S. dollar functional environment, foreign currency assets and liabilities are remeasured into U.S. dollars at current exchange rates except for nonmonetary assets and capital accounts which are remeasured at historical exchange rates. Revenue and expenses are generally remeasured at monthly exchange rates which approximate average exchange rates in effect during each period. Gains or losses from foreign currency remeasurement are included in consolidated net income. Net gains or losses resulting from foreign currency transactions, including hedging gains and losses, are reported in other income (expense), net and was $19 million loss for fiscal year 2012 and $1 million loss for both fiscal years 2011 and 2010. The loss recorded for fiscal year 2012 includes $14 million of loss associated with the settlement of currency contracts entered into for the purchase of Dako.