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As the Optimization Technology Center (OTC) approaches its first anniversary in October, members continue to make strong progress in the construction of a Network-Enabled Optimization System (NEOS). Operated jointly by Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University, the OTC's most recent development is an optimization server that solves problems in the areas of linear programming and unconstrained minimization. Extension of the server to other areas of optimization is planned for the near future.

The server allows access to the NEOS library remotely over the network, using flexible combinations of electronic mail, ftp, and web browser tools. It allows users to process data on the OTC's computational resources remotely over the network. This capability relieves users of the burden of downloading and compiling software, writing "driver" subroutines, and dedicating their time and computational resources to solving optimization problems.

The NEOS server will use the latest and best algorithms and computing tools for a wide range of optimization problems. One such tool is the highly acclaimed ADIFOR for computing derivatives (see ADIFOR article on page xx). For unconstrained minimization, this novel approach eliminates the need to provide the gradient and sparsity pattern, allowing the solution of large-scale problems for which the user is only required to provide the function. This provides a unique capability that is not available elsewhere.

The components of the NEOS library will be accessible through high-level language interfaces and modeling languages (such as AMPL and MATLAB), as well as through traditional subroutine calls. Modern software design features, such as component reusability, will play an important part in the library's design.

There is also a NEOS guide, designed to help both the novice and experienced user solve work-related problems using optimization technology. It will guide users through the process of formulating their problems, selecting the appropriate software, and interfacing to the NEOS software.

CRPC researcher Jorge More, a senior computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory's Mathematics and Computer Science Division, is a member of the OTC. Other members are drawn from Argonne; and Northwestern University's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and Industrial Engineering and Management Science Department.

For more information on NEOS and the OTC, see the URL: http://www.ece.northwestern.edu/OTC/ . To access the optimization server, contact the URL: http://www-neos.mcs.anl.gov/neos/ .

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