Frequently Asked Questions About Analytic Solver Platform for Education

Why should I consider teaching with Analytic Solver Platform for Education (ASPE)?

In a nutshell, because it can simplify your life, save classroom time, and enrich your students' experience with optimization, simulation and more.

Compared to software alternatives, ASPE offers you far more functionality and power at a far better academic price, with far better support for you, your IT staff, and your students.

I've been teaching with the standard Solver in Excel.  Why should I change?

ASPE can be used as a bridge between the old and new Excel Solvers.  Besides offering far more (if you choose to use it), ASPE can 'emulate' both the Solver in Excel 2007 (and earlier) and the Solver in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013.  You can "have your cake and eat it too:"  Teach as you have before, but use the new Excel Solver and ASPE enhancements when you're ready.

I've been teaching with Premium Solver for Education (PSE).  Why should I change?

Premium Solver for Education was discontinued in 2009, but all of its features are contained within Analytic Solver Platform for Education.  Old versions of PSE aren't supported and won't work with Excel 2013 or Excel 2010 64-bit version, but ASPE is guaranteed to work.  And your PSE models and macros can be used as-is with ASPE.  It's literally “all upside, no downside!”

I've been teaching with Risk Solver Platform for Education (RSPE).  Why should I change?

Congratulations!  Risk Solver Platform for Education is now contained within Analytic Solver Platform for Education, which also includes the data exploration and visualization, forecasting and data mining features of our XLMiner software.  If you don't need these extra features, you can easily switch Analytic Solver Platform into "Risk Solver Platform mode", which hides the XLMiner tab on the Ribbon.

How can my students with Macs or MacBooks use Analytic Solver Platform for Education?

We highly recommend that you ask students to use a dual-boot or virtual machine setup (such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion) on their Macs, with Windows and Microsoft Office for Windows installed alongside Mac OSX.  A Mac with this setup makes an excellent host for Analytic Solver Platform for Education.

I use a textbook that features standard Solver or Premium Solver.  How can I use ASPE?

Easily!  First, since ASPE can 'emulate' the old and new standard Solver and Premium Solver, you and your students can use the same example models, and follow the same step-by-step instructions, found in your favorite textbook.  But you might want to consider a "textbook upgrade," since so many leading textbooks are now written for RSPE or ASPE.  See some of the available textbooks here.

I've been teaching with Crystal Ball.  Why should I change?

Setting aside Oracle's policies, pricing and technical support:  You’re missing the benefit in classroom time savings, and your students are missing the chance to see the clear relationship between a linear programming model and a simulation optimization model, that is naturally apparent in one software package with one consistent user interface -- not to mention the power of data mining!  We can help you convert CB simulation models to ASPE, quickly and at no charge.

I've been teaching with @RISK.  Why should I change?

It’s exceptionally easy to convert models from @RISK to ASPE (we can help you) – and you get all the benefits just cited from using one software package with one consistent user interface:  Less classroom time spent learning the mechanics of software packages, more time available to learn modeling concepts, and clarity, not confusion, about the relationship of conventional optimization and stochastic optimization.  You can go so much further with data visualization and data mining, and with optimization (including robust optimization and stochastic programming) in ASPE than in @RISK that there’s no real comparison.

I have to use Crystal Ball or @RISK this Fall – I don’t want my students to be confused by ASPE...

No problem:  You can set ASPE to run in "Premium Solver mode" (or even better, "Premium Solver Platform mode"), which completely hides ASPE’s simulation and data mining features.  At any time, you can switch the software back into "full Analytic Solver Platform mode" to make all these other features available.  When you do this -- the timing is your choice -- you'll gain the benefits of one integrated software package.  Again it’s literally "no downside, all upside!"

I use CPLEX for most of my optimization models.  Why should I use ASPE?

CPLEX is a very good LP/MIP Solver.  The Gurobi LP/QP/MIP Solver, included in ASPE, is even better.  ASPE gives you the world’s best LP/QP/MIP performance, plus nonlinear, non-smooth and global optimization, plus stochastic programming, robust optimization and simulation optimization -- all in one package, with one consistent user interface, 100% compatible with the past and future Excel Solver.  And you can teach forecasting and data mining, simulation, risk analysis and decision analysis using ASPE, with one integrated package!

I'm anticipating/worrying about Excel 2013 and/or 64-bit PCs.  How will this impact ASPE?

Since ASPE V12.5 already runs in Excel 2013 (both 32-bit and 64-bit) – as well as Excel 2010 and Excel 2007 – you don’t have to worry.  You can just look forward to the benefits!

OK, ASPE sounds pretty good for my teaching. But what does it cost?

ASPE costs less than just about any alternative:  Click here for pricing of one-year or two-year student licenses or lab machine licenses (requires academic pricing access).  It’s an absolutely amazing value, considering that it does far more than XLMiner plus Premium Solver plus @RISK or Crystal Ball combined!

If you’re using one of the textbooks written for Analytic Solver Platform, and you only need a semester-long license, we have an even better deal for you and your students:  FREE!  That’s right, absolutely free, for the best software available for teaching at any price.

Well! – OK, we can afford it.  But for our IT staff, new software always presents headaches.

We know this, and we’ve made it a priority in software development to address the needs of university IT people who have the job of deploying academic software packages on hundreds of lab machines, student laptops and the like.  We’ve dealt with standalone licenses, network licenses, Terminal Services, disconnected laptops, and just about everything else.  It’s our job to make your IT staff’s life easier.

I have a model I use for teaching that exceeds one of ASPE’s problem size limits.  What can I do?

Just contact us.  All of ASPE's problem size limits are controlled through a license code.  We can temporarily raise the limits by supplying a new license code, so you can use your model as-is in teaching.

It all sounds good, but I'm sure I'll find a glitch with ASPE at some point while I'm teaching...

Here you’ll find another difference in ASPE:  Like other software vendors, we’re constantly improving our software – with minor "point releases" as well as major releases.  But unlike other vendors, we treat academic users as a top-level priority, right alongside our corporate customers, in both technical support and product development.

OK, just one more question:  How can I evaluate ASPE myself?

We'll be pleased to give you, as a faculty member considering adoption of the software, a free trial license to use ASPE.  Just contact us at or 775-831-0300.  You can download and install ASPE, using a special installation password and license activation code that we’ll supply.  You’re fully eligible for our technical support and ASPE upgrades.  We hope you’ll agree:  ASPE is a 'slam-dunk', all-upside, no-downside decision: A tool you can use to teach business analytics and management science, better than ever before.


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