5 reasons why solver developers should listen to academia [primal]

We academia enjoy giving advice to others. Here are a few reasons why solver developers should sometimes listen to what academia have to say. You can get a set of opposite arguments on the associated dual post.

  1. We design good things. A simple truth is that lots of components that make modern solvers work were developed by academia. Several cutting plane algorithms and primal heuristics such as the feasibility pump and local branching were designed by academia. Although a very small portion of research on integer programming is useful for software developers, Gurobi, CPLEX and XPress would not be that fast if nobody paid attention to Mathematical Programming papers. 
  2. Our advice is cheap. Most times you don’t even have to pay for it. It’s all out there, in the form of journal papers. Consulting or doing this kind of R&D in house would cost a lot more.
  3. We can help you understand complex phenomena. When we experience something unexpected, we spend considerable time trying to analyze it. We see these difficulties as challenges. We try to design workarounds or improvements to tackle these challenges. We are far less likely to trash something because it “does not work”,  and move on to your competitor’s product.
  4. We can provide independent performance reviews. Companies are expected to claim that their products are the best. Even if you are as good as Hans Mittelmann in benchmarking, nobody has a lot of credibility when comparing its own products to those of its competitors.
  5. We train your future customers. What we tell them about your product may shape their perception. Also, once we train them in using one solver, they might stick to it when they get an industrial job.

Overall, I believe that collaboration between solftware developers and academia has produced significant benefits for both parties, and should be pursued!


  1. […] We academia are very eager to offer advice. Here are a few reasons why solver developers should sometimes refrain from listening too much to what academia has to say. I don’t mean ignoring scientific literature, but rather “advice” and requests for features from graduate students and professors. You can get a set of arguments supporting another opinion on the subject on the associated primal post. […]

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