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Create Efficient Optimization Problems

When a problem has integer constraints, solve calls intlinprog to obtain the solution. For suggestions on obtaining a faster solution or more integer-feasible points, see Tuning Integer Linear Programming.

Before you start solving the problem, sometimes you can improve the formulation of your problem constraints or objective. Usually, the software can create expressions for the objective function or constraints more quickly in a vectorized fashion rather than in a loop. This speed difference is especially large when an optimization expression is subject to automatic differentiation; see Automatic Differentiation in Optimization Toolbox.

Suppose that your objective function is

i=130j=130k=110xi,j,kbkci,j,

where x is an optimization variable, and b and c are constants. Two general ways to formulate this objective function are as follows:

  • Use a for loop.

    x = optimvar('x',30,30,10);
    b = optimvar('b',10);
    c = optimvar('c',30,30);
    tic
    expr = optimexpr;
    for i = 1:30
        for j = 1:30
            for k = 1:10
                expr = expr + x(i,j,k)*b(k)*c(i,j);
            end
        end
    end
    toc
    Elapsed time is 307.459465 seconds.

    Here, expr contains the objective function expression. Although this method is straightforward, it can require excessive time to loop through many levels of for loops.

  • Use a vectorized statement. Vectorized statements generally run faster than a for loop. You can create a vectorized statement in several ways.

    • Expand b and c. To enable term-wise multiplication, create constants that are the same size as x.

      tic
      bigb = reshape(b,1,1,10);
      bigb = repmat(bigb,30,30,1);
      bigc = repmat(c,1,1,10);
      expr = sum(sum(sum(x.*bigb.*bigc)));
      toc
      Elapsed time is 0.013631 seconds.
    • Loop once over b.

      tic
      expr = optimexpr;
      for k = 1:10
          expr = expr + sum(sum(x(:,:,k).*c))*b(k);
      end
      toc
      Elapsed time is 0.044985 seconds.
    • Create an expression by looping over b and then summing terms after the loop.

      tic
      expr = optimexpr(30,30,10);
      for k = 1:10
          expr(:,:,k) = x(:,:,k).*c*b(k);
      end
      expr = sum(expr(:));
      toc
      Elapsed time is 0.039518 seconds.

Observe the speed difference between a vectorized and nonvectorized implementation of the example Constrained Electrostatic Nonlinear Optimization, Problem-Based. This example was timed using automatic differentiation in R2020b.

N = 30;
x = optimvar('x',N,'LowerBound',-1,'UpperBound',1);
y = optimvar('y',N,'LowerBound',-1,'UpperBound',1);
z = optimvar('z',N,'LowerBound',-2,'UpperBound',0);
elecprob = optimproblem;
elecprob.Constraints.spherec = (x.^2 + y.^2 + (z+1).^2) <= 1;
elecprob.Constraints.plane1 = z <= -x-y;
elecprob.Constraints.plane2 = z <= -x+y;
elecprob.Constraints.plane3 = z <= x-y;
elecprob.Constraints.plane4 = z <= x+y;

rng default % For reproducibility
x0 = randn(N,3);
for ii=1:N
    x0(ii,:) = x0(ii,:)/norm(x0(ii,:))/2;
    x0(ii,3) = x0(ii,3) - 1;
end
init.x = x0(:,1);
init.y = x0(:,2);
init.z = x0(:,3);
opts = optimoptions('fmincon','Display','off');

tic
energy = optimexpr(1);
for ii = 1:(N-1)
    jj = (ii+1):N; % Vectorized
    tempe = (x(ii) - x(jj)).^2 + (y(ii) - y(jj)).^2 + (z(ii) - z(jj)).^2;
    energy = energy + sum(tempe.^(-1/2));
end
elecprob.Objective = energy;
disp('Vectorized computation time:')
[sol,fval,exitflag,output] = solve(elecprob,init,'Options',opts);
toc
Vectorized computation time:
Elapsed time is 1.838136 seconds.
tic
energy2 = optimexpr(1); % For nonvectorized comparison
for ii = 1:(N-1)
    for jjj = (ii+1):N; % Not vectorized
        energy2 = energy2 + ((x(ii) - x(jjj))^2 + (y(ii) - y(jjj))^2 + (z(ii) - z(jjj))^2)^(-1/2);
    end
end
elecprob.Objective = energy2;
disp('Non-vectorized computation time:')
[sol,fval,exitflag,output] = solve(elecprob,init,'Options',opts);
toc
Non-vectorized computation time:
Elapsed time is 204.615210 seconds.

The vectorized version is about 100 times faster than the nonvectorized version.

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