Contact: Daniel Fylstra
INCLINE VILLAGE, NV -- November 10, 1999 -- Frontline Systems, Inc., developer of the Solver component in all three major spreadsheets, is now shipping Version 3.5 of its Small-Scale Solver DLL (Dynamic Link Library) products, aimed at application developers seeking to add optimization capabilities to their software.
Version 3.5 of the Solver DLL product line introduces a number of new features, including reentrant operation for multi-threaded Intranet and Web server applications, an Evolutionary Solver 'engine' -- based on genetic algorithms -- that complements the classical Solver engines already available in the Solver DLL, the ability to read and write problems in human-readable algebraic form, and an increase in capacity for linear and quadratic problems from 800 to 2,000 variables. Single-user license prices for the Solver DLL products range from $500 to $1,500, and have not changed with the new upgrade.
A free evaluation version of the Solver DLL V3.5 is now available for download from Frontline Systems' Web site at http://www.frontsys.com.The Solver DLL products bring to user-written applications the optimization 'engines' that form the core of the Microsoft Excel Solver, the Quattro Pro Optimizer, and the Lotus 1-2-3 Solver, all of which were developed by Frontline Systems. Applications can use the Solver DLLs to automatically find the best way to allocate scarce resources -- such as money, raw materials, equipment or people time -- to maximize profits or minimize costs while operating within certain limits, called constraints, on their use.
Evolutionary Solver Complements 'Classical' Solvers
The new Evolutionary Solver, included with the nonlinear GRG Solver in Version 3.5 of the Solver DLL, is the most general-purpose Solver engine available, in that it makes no assumptions about the mathematical form of a problem's functions (objective and constraints). The advantage of an evolutionary algorithm is its generality and flexibility. Unlike classical methods that restrict the formulas in an optimization model to linear or smooth nonlinear functions, an evolutionary algorithm can, in principle, handle any type of function that an application program might require, including non-smooth or discontinuous functions. In nonlinear problems with multiple locally optimal solutions, the Evolutionary Solver is much more likely than the GRG Solver to find the globally optimal solution. The tradeoff is that an evolutionary algorithm may take much longer to find a good solution, and it can test only for improved solutions, not for mathematically optimal solutions. For further information on evolutionary algorithms, visit Frontline System's Web site.
Multi-Threaded Optimization Simplifies Server Applications
Version 3.5 of the Solver DLL is offered in both single-threaded and multi-threaded versions. The single-threaded versions -- like earlier versions of the Solver DLL -- are serially reusable, but not reentrant. They can solve multiple problems serially, but not concurrently, nor can they solve problems recursively, for example where an optimization sub-problem must be solved as a step in solving a larger problem. Version 3.5 features new fully reentrant, multi-threaded versions of the Solver DLL that can solve multiple problems concurrently and/or recursively. These versions are suitable for Web server or Intranet-based applications, which may be accessed by many users at unpredictable moments that may overlap in time.
Use-Based Licensing Supports Web Server Deployment
With the ability to solve multiple problems concurrently, the Solver DLL Version 3.5 is being deployed in server applications where the number of users is unknown in advance, or may become very large. In such cases, the normal user-based (or "seat-based") licensing for multiple copies of the Solver DLL may not be appropriate. To meet this requirement, Frontline Systems has developed alternative use-based licensing terms, where the DLL will permit any number of users, but will monitor the number of uses of the optimizer. Developers can choose between user-based and use-based licensing. On either basis, they can prepay for a quantity of licenses to bring down the average cost on a steeply declining discount schedule, and they can arrange that the total license cost will not exceed a certain fixed amount for a period such as a year, or for the lifetime of the application.
New Functions Handle Problems in External Files
Using the Solver DLL V3.5, application programs can easily read and write linear, quadratic and mixed-integer problems to and from text files, in human-readable algebraic notation. This makes it easy to save problems in one user session and load them in a later session, or to write programs that generate problem definitions in text form that are then read and solved by the Solver DLL.
Configurations are Tailored to Specific Application Needs
The Small-Scale Solver DLL V3.5 is offered in five different configurations to meet the needs of specific applications. All configurations include both 16-bit and 32-bit versions, for use with Windows 3.x, 95/98, and NT/2000. Also included are a Visual Basic module, a Delphi Pascal unit, Fortran INTERFACE declarations, and a C/C++ header file to make the Solver DLL routine easily accessible from these languages. The configurations and their single-user license prices are:
- LP Solver DLL ($495) - Uses the Simplex Solver for linear problems and the Branch & Bound method for mixed-integer linear problems, and handles up to 1,000 variables.
- LP/QP Solver DLL ($750) - Adds quadratic programming capabilities to the LP Solver, which is especially useful for portfolio optimization. This Solver engine also handles up to 2,000 decision variables.
- NLP Solver DLL ($750) - Includes the GRG Solver engine for smooth nonlinear problems, and the new Evolutionary Solver engine for non-smooth problems, each handling up to 400 variables.
- NLP/LP Solver DLL ($1,250) - Combines the capabilities of the NLP and LP Solver engines, adding the ability to determine whether a problem is linear or nonlinear and switch between these Solver engines.
- NLP/LP/QP Solver DLL ($1,500) - Combines all the capabilities of the NLP, LP, and QP Solver engines in one product, offering maximum flexibility and performance.
Multiple licenses are offered on an aggressive discount schedule that readily supports high-volume applications. This schedule includes user-based and use-based pricing, "trial period" licensing where the total license cost will never exceed a fixed maximum, and paid-up licensing options. Contact Frontline Systems for further details.
Free Solver DLL Evaluation Kit is Available on the Web
Frontline Systems has made available a free Evaluation Kit for the Solver DLL product line on its World Wide Web site, http://www.frontsys.com. This Kit includes a fully-functional version of the Solver DLL V3.5, limited to 10 decision variables; the full text of Frontline's 144-page Solver DLL User Guide in Help file format; and complete source code of nearly a dozen example programs in Visual Basic, C/C++, Fortran, and Delphi Pascal, with step-by-step build instructions. Users with questions about the Solver DLL products are invited to contact Frontline Systems' technical support at (775) 831-0300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.