Solver for Excel for Mac 2011 is Better than Ever, Still Free for Users

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Solver, a feature that was brought back in response to user demand for Excel 2008 for Mac, is better than ever in new Excel for Mac 2011, handling new kinds of models with even faster performance. It will be generally available on October 26 as a free download at http://www.solver.com/mac, from Solver developers Frontline Systems, with early access now for members of the press and volume license customers who have the final release version of Office for Mac 2011.

Solver's Easy to Use Interface for Excel for Mac 2011

Solver's Easy to Use Interface for Excel for Mac 2011

“Solver for Excel 2011 offers many enhancements over our Solver for Excel 2008, including our Evolutionary Solver and global optimization methods,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline Systems’ President.

Solver, a feature that was brought back in response to user demand for Excel 2008 for Mac, is better than ever in new Excel for Mac 2011, handling new kinds of models with even faster performance. It will be generally available on October 26 as a free download at http://www.solver.com/mac , from Solver developers Frontline Systems, with early access now for members of the press and volume license customers who have the final release version of Office for Mac 2011.

Solver is an analytical tool that enables users to find ways to maximize profit, or minimize cost or risk, by automatically adjusting multiple input cells representing decisions in an Excel model, while satisfying constraints on the values of other cells. It is used in a wide range of industries, with a common thread of finding the best way to allocate scarce resources, and it’s widely used in MBA education.

“Solver for Excel 2011 offers many enhancements over our Solver for Excel 2008, including our Evolutionary Solver and global optimization methods,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline Systems’ President. “But we’re going further – stay tuned for new, powerful upgrades beyond the free Excel 2011 Solver when the final Office for Mac 2011 release is available in retail stores at the end of October.”

Solver for Excel 2011 uses VBA – restored in Office 2011 – for its user interface, and Apple’s new Scripting Bridge technology for higher performance when solving. It offers significant enhancements in its solving methods, putting it on a par with the new Solver in Excel 2010 for Windows, and its user interface also matches the Excel 2010 version. Excel workbooks containing Solver models, and VBA macros that control Solver, can be freely moved between Mac and Windows versions of Excel.

All versions of Solver, from Excel 3.0 in 1990 to Excel 2010 and 2011, were developed by Frontline Systems Inc. and licensed to Microsoft. Frontline offers more powerful Solvers, for use inside and outside Excel, directly to end users via its Website http://www.solver.com.

New Evolutionary Solver Uses Genetic Algorithms

Previous versions of Solver included algorithmic engines – called “solving methods” in Excel 2010 and 2011 – for linear programming and nonlinear optimization, both with integer variables. Linear programming is sufficient for a wide range of problems – like scheduling employees and blending chemicals – while other problems like controlling power generators or allocating funds to stocks typically require nonlinear optimization. Excel users have enjoyed this power for two decades.

But Excel models with IF, CHOOSE, LOOKUP and similar functions don’t fit the requirements of these solving methods, and pose difficult challenges for any algorithmic method. Solver in Excel 2011 now includes Frontline’s Evolutionary Solver, refined over more than a decade, which combines genetic algorithm methods with classical linear and nonlinear optimization methods, to obtain much better solutions for these models than past Solver versions.

New Methods to Find Globally Optimal Solutions

Solver in Excel 2011 also yields better solutions for many nonlinear models. Classical methods like the GRG Solver in previous versions of Excel typically find a locally optimal solution, close to the starting values of the input variables. The new Solver also includes two approaches to finding globally optimal solutions: the Evolutionary Solver, and multistart methods that work by automatically running the GRG Solver from many intelligently chosen starting points.

New Extensive Help for Solver Users on Solver.com

As one of many features in Microsoft Excel, Solver has had only limited online Help in previous Excel versions. In Excel for Mac 2011, like Excel 2010 for Windows, Solver links to a special section of Frontline’s website Solver.com that offers hundreds of pages of Excel Solver Help and background on linear programming, nonlinear optimization, genetic algorithms and other topics.

Members of the press and volume license customers may contact Frontline Systems at press(at)solver(dot)com for a free copy of Solver for Excel for Mac 2011.

Frontline Systems, Inc. (http://www.solver.com) is a leading developer of optimization and simulation software, and 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 500 million spreadsheet users. Founded in 1987, Frontline is based in Incline Village, Nevada.

All product and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their registered owners.

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