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Computer Science Department

Assistive Solver for Optimization Problems

Catherine Baker

The program will help students check their work on optimizations problems similar to the ones covered in the Operations Research class the math department has. These problems seek to maximize or minimize an output of some function given some constraints. An example of this type of problem is:

Mary is selling blank note cards and birthday cards in the mall. Blank note cards are sold for $5 for 10 and birthday cards are sold for $1 each. It costs $1 to create 10 blank note cards and $.50 to create 1 birthday card. She only has enough paper to make 25 cards and can only spend $3 making the cards. Given this information, how many of each type of card should Mary make?

As these problems have the ability to be solved with different steps, the program will be able to handle the different choices the user will make and let them know if it is a valid move or not. There are three different methods that can be used to solve an optimization problem, big M method, simplex method, and two-­phase method, and the program will be able to follow the progress of each step the user enters and determine and alert the user to whether or not they have made a mistake. The interface will include a few choices for the user. They can view a section where there is a problem fully solved in order to help remind them of the process. As these problems can come in varied levels of difficulty, the user can adjust the size of matrix and will also be able to adjust to whether or not the user would like to use fractions or decimals for their solution.