Frontline Systems is shipping Version 2014 of its Solvers for Excel, including its new flagship integrated product, Analytic Solver Platform -- featuring a new, powerful facility for multi-dimensional analytic modeling in Excel. V2014 also includes new versions of Risk Solver Platform, the leading tool for simulation / risk analysis and stochastic optimization in Excel; Premium Solver Platform, the leading tool for conventional optimization in Excel; subsets Premium Solver Pro and Risk Solver Pro; and XLMiner, the leading data visualization and data mining add-in for Microsoft Excel.
"Multi-dimensional spreadsheet modeling is another key step in our continuing effort to 'democratize analytics'," said
Upward Compatible from Excel Solver, works with Excel 2013
Frontline's Solvers are upward compatible from the Solver included in Excel, which Frontline developed for
Dimensional Modeling: Enterprise Modeling Features in Excel
Dimensional modeling in Analytic Solver Platform V2014, Risk Solver Platform V2014, and Premium Solver Platform V2014 enables users to build more structured, easily readable, compact Excel models, that represent business situations with many ‘dimensions’ such as products, customer types, geographic regions, or time periods -- giving an ordinary spreadsheet the capabilities found in enterprise business intelligence systems, without the high cost and learning curve of those systems.
Frontline's PSI Interpreter extends ordinary Excel formulas to operate over multi-dimensional 'cubes', and integrates easily with Excel PivotTables and PowerPivot for both input and output data. A formula such as =A1+B2*C3, where B2 and C3 (say) are defined with the new PsiCube() function, can compute thousands of values across up to eight dimensions. Double-clicking a cube formula displays a built-in multi-dimensional cube result viewer with drag-and-drop pivoting of dimensions. Other Psi functions can write cube results to cell ranges.
Dimensional modeling can be used for 'what-if' and sensitivity analysis, and for defining optimization models and Monte Carlo simulation models. Parametric dimensions can be used to perform multiple sensitivity analysis, simulation, or optimizations runs for all combinations of values from selected dimensions, yielding results via built-in reports and charts, or in Excel PivotTables and PivotCharts.
New Levels of Help and User Support in
The algorithmic methods in Analytic Solver Platform represent "rocket science" for many users, who want to gain business advantage from these methods, but may be unsure whether they can learn and make effective use of this power. For years, Frontline Solvers have offered uniquely helpful features such as a Distribution Wizard, Constraint Wizard, and Guided Mode for optimization, but V2014 goes even further – bringing "Proactive Support" for analytics directly into Microsoft Excel.
When a user encounters a common problem or error condition in any of Frontline Solvers V2014, special dialogs and Help appear, the desktop software reports the problem in real-time to Frontline's servers, and the user can be connected immediately via "live chat" to Frontline's technical support – bypassing the delays and missing information characteristic of traditional phone and email support. A series of user errors automatically triggers a support ticket in Frontline's online Help Desk, so tech support staff can follow up proactively.
New Performance Enhancements
Frontline Solvers have always offered the fastest Monte Carlo simulation in Excel, and the fastest available solvers for mathematical optimization. V2014 focuses on faster interactive performance, when starting up Excel, switching among worksheets and multiple open workbooks, and working with large models containing thousands to hundreds of thousands of formulas, constraints in optimization, or distributions in simulation.
The V2014 release also incorporates all the performance enhancements introduced recently in the PSI Interpreter for commonly-used Excel functions, the Evolutionary Solver in its use of multi-core CPUs for global search and massively parallel GPUs in local search, and the first commercial implementation of the stochastic decomposition algorithm, a highly scalable approach for solving stochastic linear programming models.
Solves on Desktops or Cloud-Based Servers
Users of Frontline's Solvers V2014 can choose whether to solve an optimization or simulation model on their own desktop PCs, or upload their model for solution on a server running Frontline's Solver Server, a component of Solver SDK Platform V2014. Solutions downloaded from server to client automatically update the user's Excel model, so that server-based solutions offer the same features (such as sensitivity analysis for optimization, or trial data for Monte Carlo simulation) as desktop-based solutions.
New Versions of Plug-in Solver Engines
The V2014 release also includes enhanced versions of several plug-in, large-scale Solver Engines with better-than-ever performance, including new versions of the Gurobi, Xpress, and KNITRO Solvers. These Solver Engines can be used with the Solver Platform products in Excel, with Solver SDK Platform in custom applications, and with Solver Server on more powerful computing platforms.
Academic Version and Upgrades for Existing Users Available
Users of existing Frontline Solver products can upgrade to V2014 at no cost if they have current Annual Support, and they can upgrade to Analytic Solver Platform for the difference in price. Analytic Solver Platform for Education is featured in the latest editions of several leading management science textbooks, published in Fall 2013.
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