Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The alternative Calc Optimization Solver
For those industrial engineers that use optimization tools for operations research you no doubt know about the Microsoft Excel Solver. An optimization tool embedded into a spreadsheet can be a real life saver. Linear programming problems can be developed rather rapidly. Concepts can be quickly tested. Applications can be delivered on a software platform that is rather ubiquitous. Yet is there an open source free software solution available?
Of course there is one available. The Calc Optimization Solver is available for use with the Open Office software suite. The modeler will no doubt recognize the similarities to the MS Excel Solver. Calc's Optimization Solver can tackle most linear programming scenarios. Problems can be developed by assigning Calc cells to variables or equations. Integrality can be set if an integer results are desired. Non-negativity can be set by just setting a flag in the Options menu.
Calc's Optimization Solver may not be the desired tool for serious optimization problems yet it can be real handy for most situations. Serious applications for business use can be developed with the Optimization Solver tool. The Calc Optimization Solver can also be used to help teach operations research lessons to peers and pupils.