Contact: Daniel Fylstra
INCLINE VILLAGE, NV -- March 16, 2005 -- Crystal Ball® 7.1, the latest release of a leading product for risk analysis and Monte Carlo simulation in Microsoft Excel, announced today by Decisioneering, Inc., is up to 100 times faster than previous releases -- thanks to PSI Technology™ licensed from Frontline Systems, Inc., developers of the Solver shipped with Microsoft Excel.
In Crystal Ball 7.1 Professional and Premium Editions, users can select "Extreme Speed," which is powered by PSI Technology, or "Normal Speed," which uses Microsoft Excel to recalculate formulas. Extreme Speed -- the new default choice in Crystal Ball 7.1 -- yields the same simulation results as Normal Speed, but takes a tiny fraction of the time to perform thousands of spreadsheet recalculations.
"This is more than an impressive speed increase -- it's a qualitative change that empowers our users to tackle risk analysis projects they couldn't seriously consider before," said Jim Franklin, Chief Executive Officer of Decisioneering. "We're happy to partner with Frontline Systems to bring the benefits of Extreme Speed to Crystal Ball Users."
"We look forward to widespread use of PSI Technology by existing and new Crystal Ball users," said Daniel Fylstra, Chief Executive Officer of Frontline Systems. "We've leveraged the PSI Technology that powers our Premium Solver Platform optimization software for Excel to give users breakthrough performance in Monte Carlo simulation."
Risk Analysis 'Stress-Tests' Models As Well As Microsoft Excel
Spreadsheet users are accustomed to "what-if" analysis -- changing assumptions in worksheet cells and recalculating their models to explore best-case, worst-case and average-case results. But this kind of manual analysis is often insufficient in a world where poorly understood "what-if" risks can lead to billion-dollar financial disasters, as in Orange County, Long-Term Capital Management, and even Enron. Monte Carlo simulation enables spreadsheet users to "stress-test" their models by performing thousands of "what-if" trials automatically, using random numbers drawn appropriately for their assumptions, and creating statistical analyses and graphs of the results. It can yield a much deeper understanding of the risks of an engineering project, financial move, marketing plan or business venture.
But on large spreadsheet models, these thousands of "what-if" trials -- each one requiring calculation of many thousands of Excel formulas -- can take many minutes to an hour to complete, even on modern high-speed PCs. At best, this means that users find it far more difficult to gain insight into the risks they face; at worst, it means that potentially valuable analysis cannot be performed in the time required for urgent decisions.
PSI Technology Turbo-Charges Risk Analysis in Microsoft Excel
Crystal Ball 7.1 uses the standard Microsoft Excel recalculator when operating at Normal Speed, and uses PSI Technology when operating at Extreme Speed. All other aspects of the simulation, such as random number sampling and statistical analysis, are performed the same way in both cases.
How can PSI Technology be as much as 100 times faster than the Microsoft Excel recalculator, which was developed and refined for 16 years by Microsoft engineers, and is known for its speed? As explained in Backgrounder on PSI Technology, PSI stands for Polymorphic Spreadsheet Interpreter, a fundamentally new design that assigns several new, higher-level "meanings" to the formulas in a user's spreadsheet model. Frontline Systems originally developed PSI Technology to make optimization -- rather than Monte Carlo simulation -- in Excel faster and more accurate. It has been used for over two years in Frontline's Premium Solver Platform, its "flagship" upgrade to the standard Excel Solver (which Frontline developed years ago for Microsoft), featured at www.solver.com. In 2004, Frontline enhanced the PSI Technology to speed up Monte Carlo simulation, leading to its license agreement with Decisioneering for Crystal Ball.
Frontline is developing further enhancements to the PSI Technology for use in other products, with the common theme of going beyond what-if to power more sophisticated analysis of the millions of planning and decision models used every day in finance and investment, marketing and sales, manufacturing and distribution, and other fields.
About Frontline Systems, Inc.
Frontline Systems, Inc. (www.solver.com) is the leader in spreadsheet optimization software that helps analysts and managers optimally allocate scarce resources -- money, equipment, and people -- to realize substantial cost savings. Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, distributed to more than 100 million spreadsheet users. Founded in 1987, Frontline is headquartered in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
About Decisioneering, Inc.
Founded in 1986, Denver-based Decisioneering, Inc., is a privately-held company that provides software, training and consulting services that simplify risk analysis and improve decision-making. The company's offerings include Crystal Ball, the industry-leading risk analysis package. For more information about the company, call 800-289-2550 (in US) or 303-534-1515 or visit Decisioneering's Web site.