Spreadsheet programs (e.g., Lotus, Excel, Quattro-Pro) make it very easy to solve linear and non-linear programming (LP and NLP) problems that previously could be solved only by using very specialized programming software. The feature that allows this in Excel is called Solver.Solver also allows for inclusion of various constraints (e.g., available budget, storage space, or maximum work-hours). By varying the values of input cells, we can see how the value of our objective function (say, profit) changes. Consequently, for small problems we can manually find the best values of input cells. For bigger problems, however, the manual search becomes quite tedious. Solver is very systematic and efficient in performing the search. Especially for LP problems, the speed is rapid and the solutions are exact.
Note on the Use of Solver in Excel
Core Disciplines: Operations Management/Supply Chain
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After reading and discussing the material, students should:
- Establish the spreadsheet dependencies (links).
- Indicate the objective function, changeable cells (input cells), and constraints.
- Find optimal values of changeable cells (input cells).