OpenOffice gets Non-linear Solver
Friday saw the release of a new extension to the OpenOffice.org Calc spreadsheet which adds two new solver mechanisms. The new solver extension complements the linear solver component built into Calc in OpenOffice.org 3. A solver allows a user to calculate optimum values given a function and constraints.
According to GullFOSS, a blog of OpenOffice.org engineers at Sun, the new solver engines handle non-linear models based on Evolutionary Algorithms. The solvers, one based on "Differential Evolution and Particle Swarm Optimisation", the other based on "Social Cognitive Optimisation", will be slower than the linear solver for linear problems, but provide an approach for models which the linear solver cannot address.
For guidance on which to use, GullFOSS points to the extension's documentation which covers when to use which type of solver. The extension is licensed under the GNU LGPL 3 and should be available to download, although at the time of writing, the extensions download site appeared to be down.