Advanced Analytics on the Web: Frontline Systems Solver Add-on Makes Optimization Easy in Google Sheets

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Classic Optimization Tool for Microsoft Excel and Excel Online is Now Available for Google Spreadsheet

Solver Add-on: Optimization for Google Sheets

Solver Add-on for Google Sheets

We are democratizing analytics for both spreadsheet users and web users. We're making it easy to move from self-service business intelligence to self-service advanced analytics.

Solver, a tool included for many years in desktop Microsoft Excel, and more recently offered for Excel Online, is now available for Google Sheets, the popular web-based spreadsheet. The new Solver add-on was developed by Frontline Systems, original creators of the Excel Solver. It is free for Google Sheets users in the Chrome Web Store.

“We are democratizing analytics for both spreadsheet users and web users,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. “We're making it easy to move from self-service business intelligence to self-service advanced analytics.”

Tool Helps Users Allocate Scarce Resources Optimally

Solver uses the methods of mathematical optimization, including linear programming, mixed-integer programming, nonlinear optimization, and genetic and evolutionary algorithms, to find the best possible way to allocate scarce resources. The resources may be money, raw materials, equipment, staff time, pipeline or network capacity, or anything else in limited supply.

Solver’s ease of use, breadth of optimization methods, and the business payoff it provides accounts for its enduring popularity: It was first introduced 25 years ago in Microsoft Excel 3.0. Frontline Systems has kept Solver current in new versions of desktop Excel, and re-engineered it for the Web, with its Solver App for Excel Online in 2013. Now Frontline has brought the power of Solver to Google Sheets.

Optimization Models Defined in a Web Browser, Solved in the Cloud

Working entirely in a Web browser, a user can start with an ordinary spreadsheet model describing a business process, and turn it into an optimization model by (i) selecting cells that represent decisions on resource allocation, (ii) selecting an objective cell -- a formula to be maximized or minimized, and (ii) defining constraints on how resources can be used -- such as limits on available cash, inventory, physical space or time.

When the user clicks the Solve button, the model is transferred to a Windows Azure-based server that runs Frontline’s Solver Server software. The problem is solved, and the solution -- optimal values for the cells representing decisions -- is brought back to the spreadsheet in the user’s Web browser.

Upgrades for Larger Problems and More Analytical Methods

Like the Solver in Microsoft Excel and the free Solver App for Excel Online, the Solver Add-on for Google Sheets solves problems of up to 200 decision variables and 100 constraints. But Frontline’s Solver upgrade products can handle much large problems -- up to millions of decision variables, on desktops, servers, and in the cloud.

Beyond conventional optimization, Frontline offers powerful tools for Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis, stochastic optimization for problems with uncertainty, and forecasting, data mining and predictive analytics, working both inside and outside of Excel. Frontline specializes in making these advanced analytic methods easy to use for business analysts who are tasked with getting results. The company is promising “more exciting news” in the future for Google Sheets users.

Frontline Systems Inc. (http://www.solver.com) is the leader in spreadsheet-based analytics software, helping managers gain insights and make better decisions for an uncertain future. Its products integrate forecasting and data mining for “predictive analytics,” Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis, and conventional and stochastic optimization for “prescriptive analytics.” Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, distributed to more than 1 billion spreadsheet users. Founded in 1987, Frontline is based in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300).

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