Adaptive Finite-Difference Interval Estimation for Noisy Derivative-Free Optimization

A common approach for minimizing a smooth nonlinear function is to employ finite-difference approximations to the gradient. While this can be easily performed when no error is present within the function evaluations, when the function is noisy, the optimal choice requires information about the noise level and higher-order derivatives of the function, which is often … Read more

Full-low evaluation methods for derivative-free optimization

We propose a new class of rigorous methods for derivative-free optimization with the aim of delivering efficient and robust numerical performance for functions of all types, from smooth to non-smooth, and under different noise regimes. To this end, we have developed Full-Low Evaluation methods, organized around two main types of iterations. The first iteration type … Read more

Derivative-free separable quadratic modeling and cubic regularization for unconstrained optimization

We present a derivative-free separable quadratic modeling and cubic regularization technique for solving smooth unconstrained minimization problems. The derivative-free approach is mainly concerned with building a quadratic model that could be generated by numerical interpolation or using a minimum Frobenious norm approach, when the number of points available does not allow to build a complete … Read more

Quantifying uncertainty with ensembles of surrogates for blackbox optimization

This work is in the context of blackbox optimization where the functions defining the problem are expensive to evaluate and where no derivatives are available. A tried and tested technique is to build surrogates of the objective and the constraints in order to conduct the optimization at a cheaper computational cost. This work proposes different … Read more

NOMAD version 4: Nonlinear optimization with the MADS algorithm

NOMAD is software for optimizing blackbox problems. In continuous development since 2001, it constantly evolved with the integration of new algorithmic features published in scientific publications. These features are motivated by real applications encountered by industrial partners. The latest major release of NOMAD, version 3, dates from 2008. Minor releases are produced as new features … Read more

On the Numerical Performance of Derivative-Free Optimization Methods Based on Finite-Difference Approximations

The goal of this paper is to investigate an approach for derivative-free optimization that has not received sufficient attention in the literature and is yet one of the simplest to implement and parallelize. It consists of computing gradients of a smoothed approximation of the objective function (and constraints), and employing them within established codes. These … Read more

Scalable Subspace Methods for Derivative-Free Nonlinear Least-Squares Optimization

We introduce a general framework for large-scale model-based derivative-free optimization based on iterative minimization within random subspaces. We present a probabilistic worst-case complexity analysis for our method, where in particular we prove high-probability bounds on the number of iterations before a given optimality is achieved. This framework is specialized to nonlinear least-squares problems, with a … Read more

A simulation-based optimization approach for the calibration of a discrete event simulation model of an emergency department

Accurate modeling of the patient flow within an Emergency Department (ED) is required by all studies dealing with the increasing and well-known problem of overcrowding. Since Discrete Event Simulation (DES) models are often adopted with the aim of assessing solutions for reducing the impact of this worldwide phenomenon, an accurate estimation of the service time … Read more

Constrained stochastic blackbox optimization using a progressive barrier and probabilistic estimates

This work introduces the StoMADS-PB algorithm for constrained stochastic blackbox optimization, which is an extension of the mesh adaptive direct-search (MADS) method originally developed for deterministic blackbox optimization under general constraints. The values of the objective and constraint functions are provided by a noisy blackbox, i.e., they can only be computed with random noise whose … Read more

Two decades of blackbox optimization applications

This work reviews blackbox optimization applications over the last twenty years, addressed using direct search optimization methods. Emphasis is placed on the Mesh Adaptive Direct Search (MADS) derivative-free optimization algorithm. The core of the document describes applications in three specific fields: Energy, materials science, and computational engineering design. Other applications in science and engineering as … Read more