Overview and Market Niche
Frontline Systems is the worldwide leader in spreadsheet Solvers -- advanced software used for optimization and simulation of business and engineering models in Excel. Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro. Over 500 million copies of Frontline's Solvers for optimization have been distributed to users, in every copy of Microsoft Office sold since 1990. In higher education, Frontline's solvers -- now featured in more than 35 leading textbooks -- have become a primary tool for teaching MBA students the methods of management science.
Although relatively new to the market, Frontline Systems has quickly become a technology leader in spreadsheet simulation -- first to deliver technology for ultra-fast Monte Carlo simulation, up to 100 times faster than using Excel alone; first to deliver Interactive Simulation, where new simulation results appear instantly each time the user changes his/her model; and first to deliver support for the emerging discipline of Probability Management in large companies.
Frontline Systems delivered the first and only Excel-based software that can solve the full range of optimization models with uncertainty, using the new methods of robust optimization, as well as classical stochastic programming and simulation optimization methods. These methods empower users to define and solve problems with recourse decisions that can't even be expressed in many competitive products, let alone solved.
Frontline Systems is also a technology leader in the emerging fields of convex, conic, and global optimization. Frontline's technology platform has the unique ability to test models for convexity, and includes solvers for convex and conic optimization, and state-of-the-art solvers for challenging global optimization problems, from deterministic Interval Methods to probabilistic Multistart Methods and Genetic and Evolutionary Algorithms.
Solvers for optimization are software tools that help users find the best way to allocate scarce resources. The resources may be raw materials, machine time or people time, money, or anything else in limited supply. The "best" or optimal solution may mean maximizing profits, minimizing costs, or achieving the best possible quality. For typical applications, please click on What Are Solvers Good For?
Solvers for simulation are software tools that help users understand the consequences of uncertainty and risk. Typical business models with single-point estimates of market demand, materials costs, or project completion time often turn out way off the mark. There's no escaping uncertainty -- demand fluctuates, costs increase, and things take longer than expected. But with the right tools, users can analyze risk, and make smarter plans that cope with the full range of possible outcomes.
Many if not most real business problems call for decisions to allocate scarce resources -- such as money and people time -- in the presence of uncertainty and risk about factors like market demand and materials cost. Frontline Systems' mission is to provide all the leading-edge technology, in easy-to-use form, that users need to make these decisions. Simulation optimization is one technology for doing this -- but not the only one. Frontline already offers the highest performance simulation optimization for Excel models, but this is only the beginning.
To use a Solver effectively, the user must define a model the captures the key elements of a business situation. A risk analysis model includes uncertain variables ("inputs" or sources of uncertainty) and uncertain functions ("outputs" like Net Profit). A resource allocation model includes decision variables that quantify the resources; limits on resource usage, called constraints; and a measure to optimize, called the objective. Models may be created in Microsoft Excel or in custom programs. For a further explanation, please click on What Must I Do to Use a Solver?