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Solver in Microsoft Excel

By HWA | Publish On: November 18, 2013 | Posted In:

Microsoft Excel has two tools viz., Goal Seek and Solver. These two tools are very much helpful in solving complex mathematical calculations. While Goal Seek is simpler, Solver has the ability to solve complex calculations. Solver has been originally developed by Frontline Systems. It has been developed primarily for solving optimization (maximization and minimization) problems. It can solve equations as well.

Solver is based on well established numeric methods for solving equations and for optimization. It helps in ascertaining the best use of scare resources in a business for profit maximization. Solver is used to find the optimum value for a particular cell by adjusting the values of several other cells, which include adding certain specific limitations to one or more values involved in the calculation.

An example of Capital Budgeting can be used here. For example, if a business has to choose the best project between some n number of projects. And each project needs a certain amount of money to be invested and each of those projects will yield different revenues, then obviously the business would prefer to go with the highest income earning project. In this example, if a manager has to decide the best option and for this he or she has to do all the calculations manually to arrive at the best possible project. This will take time because the manager has to manually calculate them. On the other hand, if the entire data pertaining to the projects is fed into the Solver, then it will calculate the best possible criteria based on the given constraints in just a matter of couple of seconds or few minutes.

Solver is not only useful in calculating business related calculations, but also statistics and mathematical related problems can also be solved in a matter of couple of seconds. It uses algebraic modelling systems with algebraic formulas. One of the major drawbacks of Excel is that it cannot differentiate between decision variables and other variables or objectives or constraints in the formulas. That’s when Solver comes into play. It provides an interactive environment with user-friendly ways to locate which excel cells to be used for calculations and the constraints to be imposed on them.

Another important area where users find it difficult to operate or conduct complex mathematical calculations is with regards to the constraints field. Earlier, putting constraints in the cells in a plain spreadsheet was a problem because in the cells mathematical formula could only work well when the value of the dependant cells is not negative. In other words, older spreadsheets only recognized whole numbers. And also there were issues with relational operators like less or equal to or greater than or equal to, etc. Solver, which was developed in coordination with Microsoft solved this problem by allowing for several different types of constraints. In other words, Solver increased the range of numbers and number types there by allowing negative numbers to be related with zero as less than zero.

Another advantage of using Solver is its compatibility with Visual Basic for Applications and Macro Language of Excel, both of which are Excel’s own programming languages which are used for developing applications. You can use Solver for developing Visual Basic and Macros for developing specific applications. These applications are used more by businesses. Apart from using its own functions and constraints, Solver can use any of the Excel’s several functions and user-defined functions as well and perform calculations.

With these advantages at hand, it would also be helpful to learn Solver application while learning Excel. For more details, contact We have tutors and experts who can teach you in-depth concepts of Microsoft Excel and Excel Solver as well.

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