Contact:  Daniel Fylstra
Frontline Systems 775-831-0300

News Release

INCLINE VILLAGE, NV - October 1, 2003 - Frontline Systems, Inc., developer of the Solver in all three major spreadsheets, is pleased to announce Version 5.5 of the Premium Solver Platform, its 'flagship' spreadsheet optimization product for Microsoft Excel. The Platform Version 5.5 includes across-the-board performance improvements in model analysis and solution of linear, mixed integer, nonlinear and non-smooth optimization problems. Frontline is also pleased to announce Version 5.5E of the XPRESS Solver Engine, Version 5.5 of the Large-Scale SQP Solver Engine, and a new large-scale interior point nonlinear Solver, the KNITRO Solver Engine, which starts at Version 5.5.

"Linear mixed-integer performance is greatly improved in Version 5.5 of the Premium Solver Platform, LSSQP and XPRESS Solver Engines," said Daniel H. Fylstra, President of Frontline Systems. "But perhaps most striking is the speed of the KNITRO Solver Engine on large-scale nonlinear problems defined in Microsoft Excel."

The KNITRO Solver, developed by Richard Waltz, Jorge Nocedal and others at Northwestern University and licensed through Ziena Optimization Inc., is a leading example of the interior point nonlinear optimization methods that have been an intense focus of research in recent years.

Mixed Integer, Evolutionary Methods Top Premium Solver Platform Enhancements

The LP/Quadratic Solver in the Premium Solver Platform V5.5 implements a variety of new methods for LP/MIP problems, from steepest-edge pricing and an innovative bounded-variable dual Simplex method to automatic cut generation, new primal heuristics from the local search literature, pseudocost-based node and variable selection, and reduced cost fixing - yielding speed gains from 30% to 10-fold on a wide range of models.

The Evolutionary Solver in the Platform V5.5 is enhanced with new 'filtered multistart' methods that greatly improve performance on global optimization problems. Thanks to these methods, the Evolutionary Solver often outperforms the GRG Solver with multistart even on smooth global optimization problems. The Evolutionary Solver also uses the Platform's model diagnostic information to focus its genetic algorithm methods on non-smooth variable occurrences, and focus its 'classical' linear and nonlinear methods on smooth variable occurrences.

The Excel Interpreter in the Platform V5.5 is enhanced in a number of ways to improve both performance and compatibility with Excel. All nonlinear Solvers benefit from enhancements in the Interpreter's automatic differentiation capabilities, but most striking is the benefit obtained by the new KNITRO Solver Engine, which relies on second order (Hessian) values for all problem functions at each major iteration. This Solver is often able to find optimal solutions for smooth nonlinear models with hundreds to thousands of variables in half a dozen to a dozen iterations.

Large-Scale SQP Solver Moves Towards 'Universal' Solver with LP/MIP Gains

The Large-Scale SQP Solver Engine has offered remarkable performance on linear, quadratic and smooth nonlinear models of up to 100,000 variables. In Version 5.5, this Solver moves further towards an all-purpose or 'universal' Solver with greatly improved performance on linear mixed-integer models. Nearly all the MIP methods in the Premium Solver Platform have been applied to the LSSQP Solver, including cut generation, new primal heuristics, pseudocost-based node and variable selection, reduced cost fixing, and preprocessing and probing for 0-1 integer variables. The result is excellent performance on a very wide range of real user models - second only to the XPRESS Solver Engine on LP/MIP and QP/MIP models.

XPRESS Solver Engine Reaches New World-Class Levels of MIP Performance

The XPRESS Solver Engine Version 5.5E incorporates a wide range of improvements in LP and mixed-integer methods, further enhancing its world-class performance. This Solver Engine, based on Xpress 2003E from Dash Optimization, is nearly three times faster than Xpress Release 13 (the 2002 version) on Dash's internal benchmark test suite of over 1,000 problems.

KNITRO Solver Engine Reaches New World-Class Levels of NLP Performance

The new KNITRO Solver Engine starts at Version 5.5 (for compatibility with the Premium Solver Platform) and is based on the KNITRO Solver from Ziena Optimization Inc., a company spun off from Northwestern University. Frontline has worked closely with KNITRO developers Richard Waltz and Jorge Nocedal, on improvements to both the Premium Solver Platform (for Jacobian and Hessian evaluation) and to the KNITRO Solver, to support this new product release. Ziena is concurrently releasing a new version of the KNITRO Solver library with enhancements resulting from this effort.

Pricing, Upgrades, Academic Versions, and Free Evaluations

The Premium Solver Platform Version 5.5 is available in October 2003 for $1,295 for a single user license, or $2,590 for a concurrent user license. An academic version for qualified users is available for $385, with academic certification. The Large-Scale SQP Solver Engine V5.5 and the new KNITRO Solver Engine V5.5 are each priced at $3,995 for a single user license, $7,990 for a concurrent user license, and $1,200 for an academic license with certification. The XPRESS Solver Engine V5.5E is available with the primal and dual Simplex Solvers for $5,995 ($1,800 academic), and with both Simplex and Newton Barrier Solvers for $7,695 ($2,310 academic).

Existing users of the Premium Solver Platform Version 5.0, Large-Scale SQP Solver V5.0, and XPRESS Solver Engine V5.5 with current Annual Support Contracts will receive free upgrades to the new product versions. Users of Frontline's existing nonlinear Solvers with current Annual Support Contracts have an opportunity to 'trade in' the Solver they are using for credit against the license price of the KNITRO Solver. Prospective users can download fully functional, full capacity and speed, free trial versions of the new products (beginning late October and limited to 15 days) from Frontline's Website at For further information, contact Frontline Systems at or at 888-831-0333 (U.S. toll free) or 775-831-0300 (international).

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