INCLINE VILLAGE, NV – September 10, 2012 – Frontline Systems is shipping new Version 12.0 of its Solvers for Excel, including Risk Solver Platform V12.0, its flagship tool for simulation and risk analysis, conventional and stochastic optimization, subset products Premium Solver Platform V12.0, Premium Solver Pro V12.0, and Risk Solver Pro V12.0, and its eight large-scale Solver Engines V12.0.
“V12.0 brings to the Excel user the benefit of advanced analytic algorithms, exploiting new technology in CPUs, GPUs and cloud servers,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. “This release makes advanced optimization and simulation even more accessible to non-specialists.” V12.0 follows V11.5 by only eight months – Frontline has one of the fastest product upgrade cycles in the industry.
Upward Compatible from Excel Solver, works with Excel 2013 Preview
Frontline’s Solvers for Excel are upward compatible from the Solver included in Excel, which Frontline developed for Microsoft, and improved in Excel 2010 for Windows and Excel 2011 for Macintosh. Users can solve problems hundreds to thousands of times larger than the basic Excel Solver, at speeds anywhere from several times to hundreds of times faster, and they can solve completely new types of problems.
Frontline’s Solvers V12.0 work with Excel 2007 and Excel 2010, and with Excel 2013 Preview Edition, which makes many changes in window, task pane and dialog behavior. Frontline’s PSI Interpreter now supports nearly 50 new built-in functions available in Excel 2013.
Solves on Desktops or Cloud-Based Servers
Users of Frontline’s Solvers V12.0 can choose whether to solve an optimization or simulation model on their own desktop PCs, or upload their model for solution on a server running Frontline’s Solver Server V12.0, a new component of Solver SDK Platform V12.0. Solutions downloaded from server to client automatically update the user’s Excel model, so that server-based solutions offer the same features (such as sensitivity analysis for optimization, or trial data for Monte Carlo simulation) as desktop-based solutions. Both client and server can use the same advanced Solver Engines, with more than a dozen choices, fully exploiting the power of the host machine.
Evolutionary Solver Features Both Genetic Algorithms and Tabu/Scatter Search
Frontline’s Evolutionary Solver has been very popular with users ever since it was first introduced, because it can find good solutions for Excel models that don’t satisfy the requirements of linear programming or even nonlinear optimization. It has been enhanced many times over the years, and a basic version is now included in Microsoft Excel 2010 and Excel 2011. In V12.0, the Evolutionary Solver has been significantly enhanced to include both a full set of genetic algorithm based methods, and a full set of methods from the literature on tabu search and scatter search. Both sets of methods also take advantage of classical linear, smooth nonlinear, and derivative-free optimization methods for local search.
Evolutionary Solver Exploits Massively Parallel GPUs
The Evolutionary Solver, which has exploited multi-core CPUs since 2009, now exploits massively parallel GPUs (graphics processing units such as Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon devices) for even faster performance in its local search algorithms. Most modern desktop and laptop PCs have these devices, traditionally used for faster graphics and gaming. Since they feature scores to hundreds of specialized processors for vector-oriented arithmetic, a recent trend has been to use them for numeric or analytic processing. Frontline is among the very first software vendors to use Microsoft’s new C++ AMP (Accelerated Massive Parallelism) support, introduced this month in Visual Studio 2012.
New Decomposition Method Solves Largest-Ever Stochastic Linear Programs
Since its introduction in 2008, Risk Solver Platform has featured uniquely powerful methods for solving linear programming problems with uncertainty (usually called stochastic LPs). Besides automatically formulating and solving the so-called “deterministic equivalent” problem for a stochastic LP, Risk Solver Platform offered the first-ever commercial implementation of robust optimization methods for these problems, handling both chance constraints and recourse decision variables. In V12.0, Risk Solver Platform goes even further to offer the stochastic decomposition algorithm, first created by Dr. Suvrajeet Sen and Dr. Julia Higle, as a third – highly scalable – approach for solving stochastic LPs. Stochastic decomposition has been used to solve the largest examples of stochastic LPs ever solved, on any platform. Risk Solver Platform V12.0 now brings this power, in easy-to-use form, to the typical Excel user.
Visualization of Solution Values for Uncertain Objectives and Recourse Constraints
Risk Solver Platform has a unique ability to solve stochastic optimization models with recourse decision variables – models that accurately describe many real-world plans and decisions, but that cannot even be defined in many competitive products, let alone solved. Visualizing the solution to such a model has been a challenge, since recourse decisions have many different optimal values, corresponding to different realizations of uncertainty. Most other software for stochastic optimization offers little to support the need for visualization. In V11.5, Frontline introduced built-in charts and statistics for recourse decision variables. In V12.0, Frontline has extended this capability to include built-in charts and statistics for uncertain objectives and recourse constraints (constraints that depend on recourse decision variables).
Large-Scale Solver Engines Feature Best-Ever Performance
Frontline’s eight large-scale Solver Engines for optimization are enhanced in Version 12.0 to incorporate the most recent versions of the Gurobi Solver, Xpress-MP Solver, KNITRO Solver, and five other world-class Solvers for optimization. Performance of these advanced Solvers is greatly improved over V11.5, solving some user models two to four times as fast. Switching among Solver Engines is as easy as changing a dropdown selection in Excel, or executing one line of code in a custom application. Combined with the five Solver Engines included with the base Platform products, these products make it exceptionally easy for users to find the best optimizer for their specific problems.
About Frontline Systems, Inc.
Frontline Systems, Inc. (www.solver.com) is a leading developer of optimization and simulation software, and the leader in spreadsheet-based software for both conventional and stochastic optimization, helping managers best allocate scarce resources today and in the future. Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, distributed to more than 500 million spreadsheet users. In 2011, Frontline entered the data mining market with its acquisition of XLMiner, a popular Excel add-in. Founded in 1987, Frontline is based in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300).
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