We constantly see that the main challenge in building a successful application using Frontline’s software is building, then running or solving an analytic model appropriate for your business situation. Indeed, we find that when users start a free trial of Analytic Solver in Excel, our RASON cloud platform, or Solver SDK for developers, the key step in their successful use is to get their first model working.

One of the simplest and fastest ways to get started with your own analytic model is to examine – and try running – an example model of the same nature as the model you are trying to build. Recognizing this, at Frontline Solvers we’ve created, and include for free with each of our software products, many – in facts hundreds of – example models. We’ve built small examples of scores of common business applications; examples that illustrate analytic methods from linear programming to advanced data science to business rules and decision trees; examples of platform and data access, and for developers, code examples in multiple programming languages.

Yet from talking with customers and observing real-time use of our software, we see that most users skip over this valuable step. In Analytic Solver in Excel, they don’t use the toolbar button Help and its submenu Example Models, where there are nearly 150 example workbooks that you can open with one click. Instead they start creating or editing their own model, then often struggle with model-building steps that are illustrated in the examples.

Analytic Solver for Excel

If you haven’t looked at the dialog above or clicked any of the buttons shown, here’s what you’re missing: 43 Optimization example workbooks (many with multiple examples: 2 in Product Mix, 4 in Transportation of Goods, 8 in the User Guide examples workbook); 16 Stochastic Optimization examples; 38 Monte Carlo Simulation examples;  4 Simulation Optimization examples; 34 Forecasting / Data Science examples; and 14 Decision Tree and Decision Table examples.

RASON Cloud Platform

In our RASON cloud platform, where there are over 180 example models available from the toolbar button RASON Examples, we see the same thing:  users skip this step and plunge in to build their own model.  Did you know, for example, that this button gives you access to almost 80 examples just in Data Science and Machine Learning – as well as 34 examples in Optimization and 17 examples in DMN Business Rules and Decision Tables?

Solver SDK for Developers

In our Solver SDK product for developers, there are hundreds of example source files, but they naturally group into 36 examples that are each implemented in a variety of programming languages, for various platforms and tools – including C/C++, C#, F#, Java, MATLAB, Python, and R, for Microsoft COM (Component Object Model), VB.NET, and our cloud platform RASON (usually with JavaScript).

Our users’ most common applications involve optimization – but within this domain there are many methods, from linear programming (LP), quadratic programming (QP) and mix-integer programming (MIP) to nonlinear optimization, non-smooth optimization (using genetic and evolutionary algorithms, tabu search and scatter search), and simulation optimization, robust optimization and stochastic optimization.

Frontline Solvers supports all of these methods in depth, and you’ll find examples of using all of them in our example model set.  For Solver SDK users, just one of our (called “Standard Examples” for optimization), is a single source file that – when you compile and run it – solves 34 different types of optimization problems using the full range of methods!

If You Don’t Read the Docs and Don’t Explore the Menu

These days, we find that many users never even open, let alone seriously read Frontline’s Reference Guides, User Guides, or even the Quick Start Guides.  We know our software offers comprehensive functionality, and that our 3,450 pages of user documentation are too much to read in full!  But now there’s another form of help:  Our AI Agent, available from the AI Agent button on the Ribbon in Analytic Solver for Excel and (when logged in) at Rason.com.

Our AI Agent, which uses the latest version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT (ChatGPT-4o) to answer questions, is effectively “pre-trained” on all those 3,450 pages of user documentation, as well as all those 150 example models (via so-called “vector embedding” of the content).  When you ask a question, ChatGPT has available as “context” all of this knowledge.  It will answer your questions from our guides and example models – and we’ve built in one-click links to the relevant sections of the User Guide, and to the relevant example models.  Below is an example question that’s answered from the Frontline Solvers User Guide.  In other cases, you’ll get back links that directly open an example model with one click.

So – we’ve made it as easy and quick as possible to get answers without reading the User Guides and Reference Guides, and as easy and quick as possible to learn from our example models.  Now, we just ask, use this feature!  It’s been available since September 2023.  Visit https://www.solver.com/blog/ to learn more and keep up with our latest releases!