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Excel Tools: Solver and Goal Seek A Brown Bag discussion for N-81 26 Sept 2012 THIS PRESENTATION IS UNCLASSIFIED.

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Presentation on theme: "Excel Tools: Solver and Goal Seek A Brown Bag discussion for N-81 26 Sept 2012 THIS PRESENTATION IS UNCLASSIFIED."— Presentation transcript:

1 Excel Tools: Solver and Goal Seek A Brown Bag discussion for N Sept 2012 THIS PRESENTATION IS UNCLASSIFIED

2 Purpose This Talk promises to: – (re)introduce some powerful tools in Excel Optimization – centric functions Goal seek Solver – To show practical examples of how they may be used This Talk will not: – Be a course in Linear Optimization

3 References Albright, S. C. (2007) VBA for modelers Thompson – Brookstone. Walkenbach, J Microsoft Excel 2010 Bible Wiley. Ragsdale, C. Decision Analysis with Spreadsheets Balakrishnan, N. Managerial Decision Modeling with Spreadsheets Frontline Systems:

4 Block 0: Goal Seek Goal Seek: A Line Search algorithm that iteratively seeks to find the (User set) goal value. – Goods: Robust, fast, and easy to use. Can work on non-linear problems – Bads: Goal Seek is not an optimization algorithm, but rather a regulated form of iterated guessing. Sometimes doesn’t work. Can miss multiple/optimal solutions – Others: Will only take literals as the goal value. – For Nerds: Is it Binary or Golden Section? Microsoft doesn’t specify in documentation

5 The important thing to know about Goal Seek: G/S simply automates the ‘trial – and – error’ approach to problem solving. In strict terms, Goal Seek is Guessing.

6 Invoking Goal Seek Data -> What If Analysis -> Goal Seek Set Cell: The ‘target’ The desired value of the Set Cell. Must be a ‘literal’. “By Changing”

7 Goal Seek Example Given a maintenance department with two ‘shops’, if aircraft break at a rate of 1 per day, at what rate does each shop need to fix planes in order to have 80% chance that at any given moment there are no down planes? This is a queuing problem

8 Solving The hard way: Break out your stochs textbook, and try to formulate this as a Markov Chain The Easy way: Q.xls and Goal Seek!

9 Goal Seek Example

10 Goal Seek Example II: Military Application Recall Lanchester’s Aimed Fire model of combat from our last lunchtime series: Given, find the value of that results in 70 blue survivors when the Red side is eliminated.

11 Approach 1 TOO EASY! Just solve:

12 Approach II Use Goal Seek!

13 Summary Goal seek is ideal in situations where you want answers, not proofs! DISCLAIMERS: – You will not know if there are multiple solutions – You will not get any sensitivity analysis


15 Named Cells Sometimes, you want to use cells, but D$3$ can become cumbersome to type. Also, you might want to be able to understand the formulae without an interpreter. Naming Cells is very handy for this! How to? – Use the Name box!

16 Naming Cells Name Box

17 Which is easier to understand?

18 Formula Auditing Sometimes, you want to know what the ‘goezintas’ for a particular answer are. There’s a great function for this: Formula Auditing – Formulas -> Formula Auditing

19 Example I cannot overstress how useful this is for reviewing someone else’s spreadsheet!

20 SUMPRODUCT() Sometimes you have data in two columns, and you wish to find the total the product of the two sides. – Such as finding the expectation and variance of a discrete variable manually – Tallying up costs by aircraft type Excel has a special function for this: SUMPRODUCT()

21 SUMPRODUCT() II Takes two arrays, X and Y as inputs – Must be equally sized Returns a single number, which is: In English: Multiply all these by all those and add up Very useful for the objective function of a LP.

22 SUMXMY2() Sometimes you want to find the squared Euclidian distance between two points or sets of points. – Such as distance between ships in the example we will work later – Or OLS (Ordinary Least Squares) SUMXMY2: – Why did they name it that? I don’t know! – SUM of X Minus Y Squared (2)

23 SUMXMY2() II Takes two arrays, X and Y and returns the sum of square differences (i.e. squared Euclidian measure)

24 Block 1: Solver What is it: an optimization package. Can handle LP, MIP, NLP. It’s not anyone’s favorite package, but it’s the one we have. Goods: Graphical interface with spreadsheets can make formulation more visually appealing Bads: There are some problems where it fails to converge. Limits on number of variables, and number of Integer/Binary variables Others: Some important things ‘under the hood’ that should be considered (upcoming slides) For Nerds: I’ve never used Evolutionary Solver mode.

25 Invoking Solver To use Solver, it must be installed – Why? Because Bill Gates Hates you, that’s why! To use Solver in VBA, it must be installed there as well – Why? See above!

26 Installing Solver – Main Body

27 Installing Solver- VBA

28 Block II: How to use Solver

29 Solver Differences Excel 2010 has a different (and not better) interface. Report options are now available after the solution is complete – Used to be an option in the dialog box Report Options

30 A Toy Force Structure Problem You need to put together a force that is able to carry 15 helicopters, using a mix of ships at a minimum cost. Data Given: Use at least 1 LHA, 2 LCS, and no more than 4 of any type of ship.

31 Switch to Spreadsheet

32 Some Pointers I like to use color: – Objective function GREEN – Constraints RED – Variables BLUE This makes it easy to see ‘what’s what


34 Sensitivity Report

35 Okay, well, that answer was great… (but what does.5 ships mean?) In order to go forward, we need to solve as a Mixed Integer Program. In Excel, we add another constraint… … and a whole universe of complexity WARNING! It is NOT GENERALLY true that the solution to a problem with Integer constraints is ‘close’ to the associated Linear Program!

36 Solver – Pro Tips Frontline solvers claims that the limit on variables is 200, – But it might crash much, much sooner! Solutions: – A. Upgrade solver – B. Use MATLAB solver – C. Ask us (NPS) for help.

37 Solver: what can go wrong Here’s something that can go wrong: – Max X^2, unconstrained, with an incumbent solution of zero.

38 Practical Example: Optimum placement of Ships

39 Problem Description Given the map shown and the ability to place two ships, what is the optimum placement to minimize the maximum distance to a target? Real-world applications: – Ballistic Missile Defense – Medical Facility Placement – Logistics Hubs – Others?

40 First, an easier Problem What if there was only one ship to be placed?

41 Now, the Placement Problem This is actually two problems – If we knew which ship was associated with each Target, this would be easy – If we knew where the two ships were stationed, it would be easy to know which Target to associate with them We have to figure both out, simultaneously This is a hard problem – but one that is probably worth the effort

42 Formulation

43 Why does this work? Because for at one and only one of the constraints, the RHS is negative, and therefore irrelevant. – Here we’re using constraints to shape the objective function! While combining the constraints into an expression like looks good, it is highly non-linear and may cause solver to crash 

44 Summary Today we talked about: – Excel Practice, generally – Goal Seek: A useful way for getting answers but Proofs – Excel Functions: Named cells are infinitely better than R$2$:D$2$, etc. SUMPRODUCT() SUMXMY2() – Solver – Practical Applications.

45 Final Note: Presentation Don’ts BEWARE what MS office does when you copy and paste! – If you copy and paste a graph from a spreadsheet, you might be pasting the entire spreadsheet. This may be handing someone else your entire analysis. – Solution: Be sure to paste graphs as pictures BEWARE what MS office does when you use track changes. – You might leave them in. – Solution: Copy your text, paste to clipboard, then copy and paste back to word Solution to both problems: convert to.pdf before distribution

46 Point of Contact CDR Harrison Schramm After April, 2013 – BE922

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