Seeing Through the Clouds?

In case you missed them, here are all of the conference exhibitor descriptions and presentation abstracts, as a word cloud:

WordCloud

Can you find “Cloud” in there?  The NEOS Server has been providing a sort of optimization in  the cloud for 20 years, and powerful new cloud offerings for analytics number-crunching are announced regularly.  (IBM has one big announcement at this meeting.)  But in optimization what I look for in cloud services is a certain transparency, which permits you to switch between solving on the computer in front of you, on a collection of servers in your company, and in a cloud of the software provider’s servers, by resetting just a few options.

The increasing variety of distributed algorithms has increased the attractiveness of cloud-based solutions in recent years.  Surprisingly the simplest scenario, in which many independent solves are distributed over multiple computers in the cloud, is also in some ways the hardest to set up.  It’s straightforward to send out all the problems to be solved, but another matter to coordinate all the solutions that come back.  Again, what you want is a reasonably transparent way to switch between sequential solves locally and distributed solves in the cloud, by resetting some options rather than reprogramming your application.