Wouldn’t you like to know the best allocation of your limited resources to maximize your profits? Or the most efficient schedule to minimize costs? Or the most efficient remediation strategy to minimize environmental damage?
With Evolver, you can tackle tough problems like these, and much more. Evolver is an advanced, yet simple-to-use optimization add-in for Microsoft Excel. Evolver uses innovative genetic algorithm (GA), OptQuest, and linear programming technology to quickly solve problems in finance, distribution, scheduling, resource allocation, manufacturing, budgeting, engineering, and more. Virtually any type of problem that can be modeled in Excel can be solved by Evolver, including otherwise unsolvable, complex nonlinear problems. Evolver has a unique ability arrive at the best overall “global” solution to a problem—solutions traditional solvers typically miss.
New in Version 6 – OptQuest and Linear Programming
New Evolver 6 now includes the OptQuest solving engine in addition to genetic algorithms. OptQuest is a widely used state-of-the-art optimizer, integrating Tabu Search, Neural Networks, Scatter Search, and Linear/Integer Programming into a single composite method. It provides great results – and quickly – on many types of models. OptQuest supplements the existing genetic algorithm engine. The engine to use can be automatically selected by Evolver based on your model, or you can choose yourself.
Evolver now also provides linear programming algorithms to solve linear problems extremely quickly and accurately. Linear models are those where both the optimized function and the constraints are linear, and Evolver’s LP engine works with all types of adjustable cells: continuous, integer, and discrete. You’ll never need to use Excel’s Solver again.
In addition, Evolver now handles constraints more efficiently, making optimizations faster. It also supports discrete adjustable cells, better reflecting reality in many models and further speeding up optimizations by not wasting time on impossible scenarios.
Standard optimization programs such as Excel’s Solver are good at finding the best “local” solution, or combination of values to maximize or minimize the outcome of a straightforward spreadsheet model given certain constraints. They find a solution which seems to be producing favorable results and continue to work on that basis, without trying new solutions. This is known as “hill climbing.” However, these programs are not set up to handle more complicated, nonlinear problems where the best local solution may not be the best absolute answer. Evolver, using innovative “mutations” and combinations of solutions, or “organisms,” is well-suited to finding the best overall answer by exploring the entire universe of possible answers.
Using Evolver involves three simple steps:
1. Set Up Your Model.
The Evolver Model window provides one-stop setup for all optimization problems. Here you specify the target cell, identify cells to adjust, and define constraints. Adjustable cells and constraints support cell ranges for easy setup and changes, while target cells can be maximized, minimized, or approach a specific goal.
Defining Ranges and Stopping Conditions
When defining adjustable cells, you can specify the maximum and minimum boundaries of ranges of cells directly in Excel, greatly simplifying setup and making changes easy. For example, you can tell Evolver to adjust cells B1:B5, with a minimum value for each in A1:A5, and a maximum value for each in C1:C5. Multiple groups of cells may be specified, with multiple ranges in each group.
You must also define constraints in your model. For example, there may be limited resources which must be modeled. When defining constraints (hard or soft), you can also specify minimums and maximums with cell ranges.
Finally, set stopping conditions for your optimization, telling Evolver when to stop the optimization.
Evolver uses six different solving methods that you can specify to find the optimal combination of adjustable cells. Different methods are used to solve different types of problems. The six methods are:
- Recipe - a set of variables which can change independently.
- Grouping - a collection of elements to be placed into groups.
- Order - an ordered list of elements.
- Budget - recipe algorithm, but total is kept constant.
- Project - order algorithm, but some elements precede others.
- Schedule - group algorithm, but assign elements to blocks of time while meeting constraints.
Evolver also allows a great degree of control over how it performs the optimization itself. You can set optimization parameters, runtime settings, control macros and more in the Evolver Settings dialog.
2. Run the Optimization.
Click the Start icon to start the optimization. Evolver will start generating trial solutions in an effort to achieve the target set in Step 1. The summary Evolver Progress window appears, showing optimization status and best answer achieved thus far. This window lets you pause, stop, and run the optimization using playback controls. You can also monitor progress in detail with the Evolver Watcher. Tabbed reports show real-time updates on best answers achieved, all solutions tried, the diversity of solutions being tried, and more.
What Optimization Does
During an optimization, Evolver generates a number of trial solutions and uses genetic algorithms, OptQuest, or linear programming to continually improve results of each trial. With genetic algorithms, each possible solution becomes an independent "organism" that can "breed" with other organisms. The spreadsheet model acts as an environment for the organisms, determining which are "fit" enough to survive based on their results, and occasionally trying “mutations,” or completely new solutions.
3. View Optimization Results.
After optimization, Evolver can display the results of the original, best, and last solution on your entire model, updating it with each scenario in a single click. This makes it easy to decide the best course of action. You can also generate reports directly in Excel for an optimization summary, log of all simulations, and log of progress steps.
Excel Ease of Use
Evolver is a true add-in to Microsoft Excel, integrating completely with your spreadsheet. Define your models, adjust your settings, run optimizations, monitor progress, and generate reports – while never leaving Excel. Streamlined dialog boxes mean fewer open windows to navigate.
Two Editions to Meet Your Needs
Evolver is available in Professional and Industrial editions. The Professional edition allows up to 250 adjustable variables per model, while the Industrial edition allows unlimited variables. Use Evolver Industrial for your largest models where you can control hundreds or thousands of adjustable cells.
Part of the DecisionTools Suite
Evolver is available by itself or as part of the DecisionTools Suite, Palisade’s complete risk and decision analysis toolkit. The DecisionTools Suite includes @RISK for risk analysis using Monte Carlo simulation, NeuralTools for prediction using neural networks, StatTools for statistical analysis, PrecisionTree for decision trees, TopRank for what-if analysis, and more. Evolver is fully compatible with all DecisionTools programs and can be combined with them for greater insight and analysis. For example:
Evolver then NeuralTools
Combine Evolver with NeuralTools to optimize complex problems with live neural network prediction. Set Evolver’s target goal as the live predictive output for NeuralTools, and the cells for Evolver to adjust as the new inputs for NeuralTools. Then watch Evolver and NeuralTools work together to predict the optimal solution.
Save Over 50% When You Buy the Suite
When you buy the DecisionTools Suite, you save over 50% versus buying all components individually. The best analyses at a great price–with the DecisionTools Suite.
Licensing and Training
Evolver is available through a variety of licensing options, including corporate, network, and academic licenses. Training, consulting, and books can be bundled with your software to ensure you and your staff get the most out of your investment.
Evolver optimizations are calculated 100% within Excel, supported by Palisade sampling and statistics proven in over twenty years of use. Palisade does not attempt to rewrite Excel in an external recalculator to gain speed. A single recalculation from an unsupported or poorly reproduced macro or function can dramatically change your results. Where will it occur, and when? Get correct results using Evolver!
64-bit technology enables Excel and DecisionTools software to access much more computer memory than ever before. This allows for vastly larger models and greater computational power.