Frontline Solvers for Excel V11.5 Make Optimization and Simulation Easier than Ever to Use

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Frontline Systems is shipping new Version 11.5 of its Solvers for Excel. This release features new wizards and updated example models to help users get started more easily, enhanced built-in and plug-in Solver Engines to find better solutions in less time, new integration of Monte Carlo simulation and decision trees, and new ways to visualize "wait and see" solutions.

Risk Solver Platform V11.5

Risk Solver Platform V11.5

“V11.5 is our latest effort to empower business analysts with analytics tools they can easily use,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. “This release makes advanced optimization and simulation even more accessible to non-specialists.”

Frontline Systems is shipping new Version 11.5 of its Solvers for Excel, including Risk Solver Platform V11.5, its flagship tool for simulation and risk analysis, conventional and stochastic optimization, subset products Premium Solver Platform V11.5, Premium Solver Pro V11.5, and Risk Solver Pro V11.5, and its eight large-scale Solver Engines V11.5.

“V11.5 is our latest effort to empower business analysts with analytics tools they can easily use,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. “This release makes advanced optimization and simulation even more accessible to non-specialists.” V11.5 follows V11.0 by only six months -- Frontline has one of the fastest product upgrade cycles in the industry, enabling it to respond more quickly to customer needs.

Upward Compatible from Excel Solver

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.

Distribution Wizard Aids Simulation Users

Risk Solver Platform V11.5 and Risk Solver Pro V11.5 feature a new Distribution Wizard, which guides users through the steps of choosing a probability distribution to represent a source of uncertainty -- the main task that new users find unfamiliar and challenging in building a simulation model. By asking questions and automatically analyzing user-supplied data, the Wizard narrows down choices from over 50 to just a handful, and helps the user establish bounds and other properties of the distribution.

Constraint Wizard, Guided Mode Aid Optimization Users

Risk Solver Platform V11.5, Premium Solver Platform V11.5 and Premium Solver Pro V11.5 feature a new Constraint Wizard, which guides users through the steps of defining a set of constraints -- the main challenging task in building an optimization model. In Risk Solver Platform, the Wizard can even handle constraints subject to uncertainty. Besides helping with traditional constraints and bounds on variables, the Wizard can aid users with advanced concepts such as alldifferent groups and cone constraints.

Guided Mode, originally introduced in 2010, helps users understand what is happening as Frontline’s Solvers automatically diagnose and solve an optimization model. Over 100 Guided Mode dialogs, redesigned for quick understanding in V11.5, help users with both normal and error conditions arising in both conventional optimization and in stochastic optimization, where the model includes uncertainty.

Enriched Example Models Help Users Get Started

In V11.5, the dozens of example optimization and simulation models included with Frontline Solvers are delivered with new documentation and an annotated index that help users quickly find the most relevant example. New in V11.5 are decision strategy example models that use the decision tree feature now available in Risk Solver Pro V11.5, showing how to build decision trees, and use them in combination with data tables, simulation, and optimization, to gain much greater insight into high-stakes decisions.

Faster Solution of Large Quadratic and Nonlinear Models

Frontline has also improved performance -- always a user concern -- in V11.5. Through enhancements to the Polymorphic Spreadsheet Interpreter -- Frontline’s very advanced spreadsheet analysis engine -- the second-order derivatives (Hessians) needed to solve quadratic and nonlinear problems can be computed far more quickly, with far less memory -- making the solution of large models significantly faster.

New-Generation Algorithmic Methods in Evolutionary Solver

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. But “under the hood” in V11.5, the Evolutionary Solver sports an array of completely new algorithmic methods, drawn from the latest academic research -- yielding much faster and higher quality solutions for a range of user models.

Visualization of Solution Values for Recourse Decision Variables

Risk Solver Platform is unique in its ability to solve stochastic optimization models with recourse decision variables -- models that accurately describe many real-world plans with “wait and see” decisions, but that cannot even be defined in competitive products, let alone solved. When such a model is solved, each recourse decision variable has many solutions, corresponding to different realizations of uncertainty. In V11.5, recourse decision variables have built-in charts and statistics, much like uncertain variables -- illuminating the properties of the optimal solution for users.

New Decision Tree Capabilities in Risk Solver Pro

Prior to V11.5, features to build and analyze decision trees in Excel were available only in Risk Solver Platform, Frontline’s flagship product. In this release, Frontline is making these decision tree capabilities available in Risk Solver Pro, its Professional entry-level product for Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis. Decision trees can be used alone to model risky, high-stakes decisions, but with Risk Solver Pro, users can easily apply sensitivity analysis and simulation to decision tree models, to gain much greater insight into the decisions and outcomes they are modeling. The example models included with V11.5 show users exactly how apply these methods to amplify the power of their decision analysis.

Large-Scale Solver Engines Feature Best-Ever Performance

Frontline’s eight large-scale Solver Engines for optimization are enhanced in Version 11.5 to incorporate the most recent versions of the Gurobi Solver, Xpress-MP Solver, KNITRO Solver, and five other world-class Solvers for optimization. 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.

Frontline Systems, Inc. (http://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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