SolverStudio

SolverStudio is an add-in for Excel 2007 and later on Windows that allows you to build and solve optimisation models in Excel using any of the following optimisation modelling languages:

  1. PuLP, an open-source Python-based COIN-OR modelling language developed by Stu Mitchell. PuLP is included with SolverStudio.
  2. COOPR/Pyomo, an open source COIN-OR modelling language for Python which extends Pulp with abstract models, support for stochastic programming, and a larger range of solvers.
  3. AMPL, a commercial modelling language. SolverStudio either requires AMPL to be installed by the user, or can install a free trial version of AMPL that allows up to 300 variables and 300 constraints. We have a tutorial on using AMPL with SolverStudio.
    We also support running AMPL models in the cloud using the excellent NEOS server; see AMPL on NEOS.
  4. GMPL (GNU MathProg Language), an open source AMPL look-alike developed as part of GLPK (GNU Linear Programming Kit). GMPL is included with SolverStudio.
  5. GAMS, a commercial modelling language. SolverStudio requires GAMS to be installed by the user. GAMS provide a free trial version. Support for solving GAMS models using the NEOS server is working in our new beta version.
  6. Gurobi, a commercial solver which can be accessed from SolverStudio using the Gurobi Python modelling interface. This requires the Gurobi solver be installed. SolverStudio provides a license manager to help manage Gurobi licenses.
  7. SimPy, an open source Python simulation language, which is now included with the SolverStudio download.
  8. Any other Python software that runs under either IronPython or standard Python, both of which are included in SolverStudio.
  9. We hope to add Zimpl in the near future, and allow GMPL to be used with CBC.

SolverStudio allows you to create and edit your optimisation model without leaving Excel, and to save your model inside your workbook. You can also easily link data on your spreadsheet to sets, parameters, constants and variables used in the model. SolverStudio can run the model to solve the problem and then put the answer back onto the spreadsheet.

This article in INFORMS Transactions on Education provides a basic introduction to SolverStudio:

Mason AJ (2013) SolverStudio: A new tool for better optimisation and simulation modelling in Excel. INFORMS Trans. Ed. 14(1):45–52.

SolverStudio showing an AMPL model and associated data

SolverStudio is written in VBA, and C# using Visual Studio 2010 Professional. It uses the Microsoft VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office) system running on .Net 4 to manage the integration with Excel. It includes IronPython as its embedded Python engine.

You might also be interested in our OpenSolver add-in which can solve larger versions of models developed using Excel’s built-in Solver.

This research effort has been partially supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES) under grant agreement n° 246647 and by the New Zealand Government as part of the OptALI project.

SolverStudio has no affiliation with, nor is recommend by, Microsoft, Frontline Systems, AMPL, Gurobi or GAMS. All trademark terms are the property of their respective owners.

2 comments to SolverStudio

  • very cool. also check out PTVS [Python Tools for Visual Studio], esp PTVS 1.1’s Pyvot which might be useful in combination w opensolver studio.

    • amas008

      Pyvot looks like a nice tool for getting easy access to Excel sheets from Python. It works with CPython (not Iron Python), and so will work using the CPython support that will appear in the next OpenSolver Studio release. Thanks for pointing this out. Andrew