Optimization - Linear Programming

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Optimization - Linear Programming

taught by Cliff Ragsdale

Aim of Course:

Scarcity is a dominant feature of the economic landscape - time, labor and other inputs into business processes.  The essence of management is to make choices that make optimal use of scarce resources. Students in this online course, "Optimization - Linear Programming" will learn how to apply linear programming to complex systems to make better decisions - decisions that increase revenue, decrease costs, or improve efficiency of operation.   The course introduces the role of mathematical models in decision-making, then covers how to formulate basic linear programming models for decision problems where multiple decision need to be made in the best possible way, while simultaneously satisfying a number of logical conditions (or constraints).  Students will use spreadsheet software to implement and solve these linear programming problems.

This course may be taken individually (one-off) or as part of a certificate program.

Course Program:

WEEK 1: Introduction

  • The role of models in decisions
  • Sources of bias & error in human decision making
  • Good decisions vs. good outcomes

WEEK 2: Linear Programming Models

  • Formulating linear programming models
  • Graphical representations
  • Solving LP models in spreadsheets

WEEK 3: Domain Specific Illustrations

  • Make or buy
  • Investment
  • Transportation
  • Blending

WEEK 4: Sensitivity Analysis

  • Role of sensitivity analysis in the larger decision context
  • Shadow prices
  • Alternate solutions
  • Robust Optimization
  • Simplex Method


Homework in this course consists of short answer questions to test concepts, guided data analysis problems using software, and guided data modeling problems using software.

In addition to assigned readings, this course also has supplemental readings available online.

Optimization - Linear Programming

Who Should Take This Course:

Business analysts with responsibility for specifying, creating, deploying or interpreting quantitative decision models.  Users of linear programming software who need to attain a more solid grounding in the subject.



You will need to have some facility with spreadsheet operations prior to starting this course.

Organization of the Course:

This course takes place online at the Institute for 4 weeks. During each course week, you participate at times of your own choosing - there are no set times when you must be online. Course participants will be given access to a private discussion board. In class discussions led by the instructor, you can post questions, seek clarification, and interact with your fellow students and the instructor.

At the beginning of each week, you receive the relevant material, in addition to answers to exercises from the previous session. During the week, you are expected to go over the course materials, work through exercises, and submit answers. Discussion among participants is encouraged. The instructor will provide answers and comments, and at the end of the week, you will receive individual feedback on your homework answers.

Time Requirement:
About 15 hours per week, at times of  your choosing.

Students come to the Institute for a variety of reasons. As you begin the course, you will be asked to specify your category:

  1. You may be interested only in learning the material presented, and not be concerned with grades or a record of completion.
  2. You may be enrolled in PASS (Programs in Analytics and Statistical Studies) that requires demonstration of proficiency in the subject, in which case your work will be assessed for a grade.
  3. You may require a "Record of Course Completion," along with professional development credit in the form of Continuing Education Units (CEU's).  For those successfully completing the course,  CEU's and a record of course completion will be issued by The Institute, upon request.
Optimization - Linear Programming has been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE) and is recommended for the upper-division baccalaureate degree category, 3 semester hours in mathematics, or business management. Note: The decision to accept specific credit recommendations is up to each institution. More info here.
This course is also recognized by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) as helpful preparation for the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP®) exam, and can help CAP®analysts accrue Professional Development Units to maintain their certification .

Course Text:

Spreadsheet Modeling & Decision Analysis, seventh edition by Cliff Ragsdale, which can be ordered from the publisher via the previous link. This text is also used in Advanced Optimization and Risk Simulation and Queueing.

We'll buy your book for you if you register for two or more of the above courses at the same time - actually, we'll credit the value ($279) against your second course, just request a promo code here to use during registration (may not be combined with other discounts).

Note:  It is important to get the seventh edition of the text; earlier editions do not contain correct assignments.

This book is also available on a per-chapter basis; the chapters used in this course are 1, 2, 3, and 4.


The course uses Analytic Solver Platform for Education software by Frontline systems.  Analytic Solver Platform for Education is an add-in for Excel that performs risk analysis, simulation, optimization, decision trees and other analytical methods.  With the purchase or rental of the book, you will have a course code that will enable you to download and install the software for 140 days. If you do not have such a license, a license is also available for course registrants through Statistics.com.   Please do not install the regular public trial copy of the software on your own; when the course starts we will provide you with the complete installation instructions to obtain the appropriate copy of the software.

Optimization - Linear Programming

August 18, 2017 to September 15, 2017January 05, 2018 to February 02, 2018August 17, 2018 to September 14, 2018

Course Fee: $589