Risk Solver Engine is a new approach to Monte Carlo simulation that enables Excel users to play "what if" with uncertain values as easily as they do with ordinary numbers. Each time a user changes a number on the spreadsheet, a simulation with thousands of trials is performed -- often in no more time than a single spreadsheet recalculation -- and the full range of simulation results and statistics may be displayed. Users programming in Excel's VBA language can fully control the Engine and build custom applications.
"Risk Solver Engine provides the easy to use, lightning-fast Interactive Simulation in Excel that I've envisioned," said Dr. Sam Savage, president of AnalyCorp, consulting professor at Stanford University, and a noted authority on Monte Carlo simulation. "It has the potential to do for uncertainty what the spreadsheet did for numbers."
"We're making this technology available for experimental use by application developers who want to bring the power of simulation-based risk analysis to a much wider audience of users," said Daniel Fylstra, president of Frontline Systems. "Risk Solver Engine makes it exceptionally easy to create applications that empower users to understand and deal with risk."
Proven PSI Technology Key to Speed
Risk Solver Engine uses Frontline's Polymorphic Spreadsheet Interpreter technology to achieve breakthrough simulation speeds -- up to 100 times faster than normal Excel-based Monte Carlo simulation -- thus making Interactive Simulation practical every time a user changes a number on the spreadsheet.
PSI Technology(TM) was first developed to greatly enhance the performance of the Premium Solver Platform, Frontline's leading product for optimization in Microsoft Excel. Licensed by Frontline to Denver-based Decisioneering Inc., it also powers the Extreme Speed feature of Crystal Ball(R), Decisioneering's leading product for Monte Carlo simulation in Microsoft Excel.
Support for Probability Management Concepts
Risk Solver Engine supports the practice of Probability Management and Coherent Modeling in large organizations, proposed by Dr. Savage. In addition to Interactive Simulation on every spreadsheet recalculation, the Engine directly supports Stochastic Libraries, both on the Excel spreadsheet and in Excel VBA. Certification Authorities such as the "Chief Probability Officer" proposed by Dr. Savage can approve such libraries for use in the Risk Solver Engine.
Models Created with Excel Functions or VBA Code
Risk Solver Engine is aimed at consultants, modelers and application developers, rather than end users who might use the graphical user interfaces (GUIs) of simulation products such as @RISK from Palisade Corp. and Crystal Ball from Decisioneering Inc.
Risk Solver Engine provides no GUI, but it defines over 70 new functions that can be used in Excel formulas to create Monte Carlo simulation models and access simulation results. It also provides a complete object model in Excel VBA that enables Visual Basic programmers to quickly create custom risk analysis applications.
Uncertain inputs or 'random variables' can be defined either with functions such as PsiUniform() and PsiNormal() that define analytic probability distributions, or with PsiSip() and PsiSlurp() functions that use a Stochastic Library Unit, Relationships Preserved (SLURP), as described by Dr. Savage. Property functions may be used to specify correlations between random variables, shifting and truncation of distributions, and the like. And statistics functions such as PsiMean(), PsiVariance() and PsiPercentile() can be used to access simulation results -- instantly on every spreadsheet recalculation.
The easy-to-use VBA object model allows the user to define uncertain inputs and properties such as correlations, perform simulations, and access statistics and other simulation results -- at a high level with all the power of the function-based approach. The full Excel object model, including worksheets, charts, database access, custom user interface elements, and the like is also available in VBA, making it exceptionally easy to create custom applications.
Engine Empowers Application Developers
Although terms and conditions are yet to be determined, Frontline Systems envisions that consultants and application developers will be able to use Risk Solver Engine to create a wide range of custom applications that may be offered to clients or distributed commercially. Dr. Savage's firm AnalyCorp is in the process of creating custom applications for clients in several fields, ranging from oil exploration for a global firm to retirement planning for individuals.
Dr. Savage expects that "Interactive simulation models throughout organizations will serve as light bulbs, illuminating risk and uncertainty. But instead of electricity they will be powered by centrally certified stochastic libraries." Risk Solver Engine provides the technology for a more intuitive approach to dealing with uncertainty in millions of decisions made by businesses and individuals every day.
About Frontline Systems Inc.
Frontline Systems Inc. ( www.solver.com) is a leading developer of optimization and simulation software, and the leader in spreadsheet optimization software that helps analysts and managers optimally allocate scarce resources -- money, equipment and people -- to realize substantial cost savings. Frontline developed the solvers/optimizers in Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, distributed to more than 400 million spreadsheet users. Founded in 1987, Frontline is headquartered in Incline Village, Nev. (775-831-0300).
Frontline Systems Inc., Incline Village Jodi Maxson, 775-831-0300, ext. 121 E-mail: Email Contact