Frequently Asked Questions About Risk Solver Platform for Education

Why should I consider teaching with Risk Solver Platform for Education (RSPE)?

In a nutshell, because it can simplify your life, save classroom time, and enrich your students' experience with optimization, simulation and more.

Compared to software alternatives, RSPE offers you far more functionality and power at a far better academic price, with far better support for you, your IT staff, and your students.

I've been teaching with the standard Solver in Excel.  Why should I change?

The standard Solver in Excel has changed (for the better!), thanks to our work with Microsoft in Excel 2010.  If you teach with the “old Solver,” you won’t be preparing your students to use the “new Solver” now in Excel that they’ll find as they enter the workforce.

RSPE can be used as a bridge between the old and new Excel Solvers.  Besides offering far more (if you choose to use it), RSPE can ‘emulate’ both the Solver in Excel 2007 (and earlier) and the Solver in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013.  You can "have your cake and eat it too:”  Teach as you have before, but use the new Excel Solver and RSPE enhancements when you're ready.

Is Risk Solver for Education (or Premium Solver for Education) available for Mac OS?

Not at this time. We do offer a full-priced Premium Solver Platform for Mac OS with our standard academic discounts. (See an overview here.) If you wish to run Risk Solver Platform for Education on Mac OS, you can do so by using Windows virtualization software, such as Parallels, VMware, or the free VirtualBox from Oracle.

I've been teaching with Premium Solver for Education (PSE).  Why should I change?

The latest Premium Solver for Education is contained within Risk Solver Platform for Education V12.0.  And since RSPE is exactly the same price as PSE, everything that it offers beyond PSE is literally yours for free!  Old versions of PSE aren't supported and won't work with Excel 2013 or Excel 2010 64-bit version, but RSPE is guaranteed to work.  And your PSE models and macros can be used as-is with RSPE.  It's literally “all upside, no downside!”

I use a textbook that features standard Solver or Premium Solver.  How can I use RSPE?

Easily!  First, since RSPE can ‘emulate’ the old and new standard Solver and Premium Solver, you and your students can use the same example models, and follow the same step-by-step instructions, found in your favorite textbook.  Second, several leading textbooks, such as Cliff Ragsdale’s Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis and Powell & Baker’s Management Science: The Art of Modeling with Spreadsheets, already have new chapters available that use the new features of RSPE. See an overview of some of the available textbooks here.

I've been teaching with Crystal Ball.  Why should I change?

Setting aside Crystal Ball's higher academic prices, time-limited licenses, technical support (including IT support), pace of innovation, and more:  You’re missing the benefit in classroom time savings, and your students are missing the chance to see the clear relationship between a linear programming model and a simulation optimization model, that is naturally apparent in one software package with one consistent user interface.  We can help you convert CB models to RSPE, quickly and at no charge.

I've been teaching with @RISK.  Why should I change?

It’s exceptionally easy to convert models from @RISK to RSPE (we can help you) – and you get all the benefits just cited from using one software package with one consistent user interface:  Less classroom time spent learning the mechanics of software packages, more time available to learn modeling concepts, and clarity, not confusion, about the relationship of conventional optimization and stochastic optimization.  You can go so much further with optimization (including robust optimization and stochastic programming) in RSPE than in @RISK that there’s no real comparison.

I have to use Crystal Ball or @RISK this Fall – I don’t want my students to be confused by RSPE...

No problem:  You can set RSPE to run in “Premium Solver mode” (or even better, “Premium Solver Platform mode”), which completely hides RSPE’s simulation features.  At any time, you can switch the software back into “full Risk Solver Platform mode” to make Monte Carlo simulation, decision trees, and other features available.  When you do this -- the timing is your choice -- you'll gain the benefits of one integrated software package for optimization and simulation.  Again it’s literally “no downside, all upside!”

I use CPLEX for most of my optimization models.  Why should I use RSPE?

CPLEX is a very good LP/MIP Solver.  The Gurobi LP/QP/MIP Solver, included in RSPE, is even better.  RSPE gives you the world’s best LP/QP/MIP performance, plus nonlinear, non-smooth and global optimization, plus stochastic programming, robust optimization and simulation optimization -- all in one package, with one consistent user interface, 100% compatible with the past and future Excel Solver.  And you can teach simulation, risk analysis and decision analysis using RSPE, as one integrated whole, all for the same price!

I'm anticipating/worrying about Excel 2013 and/or 64-bit PCs.  How will this impact RSPE?

Since RSPE V12.0 already runs in Excel 2013 (both 32-bit and 64-bit) – as well as Excel 2010, Excel 2007, and Excel 2003 – you don’t have to worry.  You can just look forward to the benefits!

OK, RSPE sounds pretty good for my teaching. But what does it cost?

RSPE costs less than just about any alternative:  Click here for pricing of one-year or two-year student licenses or lab machine licenses (requires academic pricing access).  It’s an absolutely amazing value, considering that it does far more than Premium Solver plus @RISK or Crystal Ball combined!

If you’re using Cliff Ragsdale’s book or Powell & Baker’s book, and you only need a semester-long license, we have an even better deal for you and your students:  FREE!  That’s right, absolutely free, for the best software available for teaching at any price.

Well! – OK, we can afford it.  But for our IT staff, new software always presents headaches.

We know this, and we’ve made it a priority in software development to address the needs of university IT people who have the job of deploying academic software packages on hundreds of lab machines, student laptops and the like.  We’ve dealt with standalone licenses, network licenses, Terminal Services, disconnected laptops, and just about everything else.  It’s our job to make your IT staff’s life easier.

I have a model I use for teaching that exceeds one of RSPE’s problem size limits.  What can I do?

Just contact us.  All of RSPE’s problem size limits are controlled through a license code.  We can temporarily raise the limits by supplying a new license code, so you can use your model as-is in teaching.

It all sounds good, but I'm sure I'll find a glitch with RSPE at some point while I'm teaching...

Here you’ll find another difference in RSPE:  Like other software vendors, we’re constantly improving our software – with minor “point releases” as well as major releases.  But unlike other vendors, we treat academic users as a top-level priority, right alongside our corporate customers, in both technical support and product development.

OK, just one more question:  How can I evaluate RSPE myself?

We'll be pleased to give you, as a faculty member considering adoption of the software, a free trial license to use RSPE.  Just contact us at or 775-831-0300.  You can download and install RSPE from, using a special installation password and license activation code that we’ll supply.  You’re fully eligible for our technical support and RSPE upgrades.  We hope you’ll agree:  RSPE is a 'slam-dunk', all-upside, no-downside decision: A tool you can use to teach management science, better than ever before.


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