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The Basics of Practical OptimizationThe Basics of Practical Optimization

Adam B. Levy

Other Titles in Applied Mathematics 114

This textbook provides undergraduate students with an introduction to optimization and its uses for relevant and realistic problems. The only prerequisite for readers is a basic understanding of multivariable calculus because additional materials, such as explanations of matrix tools, are provided in a series of Asides both throughout the text at relevant points and in a handy appendix.

The Basics of Practical Optimization presents
• step-by-step solutions for five prototypical examples that fit the general optimization model,
• instruction on using numerical methods to solve models and making informed use of the results,
• information on how to optimize while adjusting the method to accommodate various practical concerns,
• three fundamentally different approaches to optimizing functions under constraints, and
• ways to handle the special case when the variables are integers.

The author provides four types of learn-by-doing activities through the book:
• Exercises meant to be attempted as they are encountered and that are short enough for in-class use
• Problems for lengthier in-class work or homework
• Computational Problems for homework or a computer lab session
• Implementations usable as collaborative activities in the computer lab over extended periods of time

The accompanying Web site offers the Mathematica notebooks that support the Implementations.

This textbook is appropriate for undergraduate students who have taken a multivariable calculus course.


About the Author
Adam Levy is Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics at Bowdoin College. He was recognized in 1997 with the college’s Sydney B. Korofsky prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching and has published over two dozen journal articles on optimization.

To request an examination copy or desk copy of this book, please use our online request form at

optimization; linear programming; applied mathematics; modeling; numerical methods

Instructors can request copies of a full solutions manual to the Exercises and Problems and Mathematica solutions to the modeling examples in Chapter 1 by writing to

2009 / xviii + 149 pages / Softcover
ISBN: 978-0-898716-79-5
List Price $69.50/ SIAM Member Price $48.65/ Order Code OT114
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Banner art adapted from a figure by Hinke M. Osinga and Bernd Krauskopf (University of Auckland, NZ.)