Computer Science CSCI-GA.2945-002
New York University
Fall Semester 2012
Class meetings: Tuesday, 5:10-7:00pm
Warren Weaver Hall (CIWW), Room 317
Instructor: Margaret Wright, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: Warren Weaver Hall (CIWW), Room 430
Office Hours: Tues 3:30-5:00pm or by appointment
Description of Course Content
A large number---one could even argue the majority---of problems in
science, engineering, medicine, and
business involve optimization problems in which
we seek to minimize or maximize an ``objective function'' subject to
constraints. This course will survey widely used methods for
continuous optimization, focusing on both theoretical foundations and
implementation as numerical software. Topics include linear programming
(optimization of a linear function subject to linear constraints),
line search and trust region methods for unconstrained optimization,
and a selection of approaches (including active-set, sequential
quadratic programming, and interior methods) for constrained optimization.
The course will consider both (i) mathematical analysis of the theoretical properties
of optimization problems (such as optimality conditions) and
methods (such as convergence); and (ii) numerical issues, such as how to
compute the solutions of associated subproblems efficiently and stably.
Numerical Optimization, Jorge Nocedal and Stephen Wright,
Other material will be passed out as notes.
The course requirements include class attendance,
written and programming homework
assignments, an in-class midterm, and a course project.
All of these will count in your final grade.
For students who took the midterm, the final grade will be
calculated via a weighted sum of three elements
(homework, midterm, project), with weights of 40%, 35%, and 25%,
where the weight for each element will be chosen for each student
to maximize his/her grade.
For students who were unable to take the midterm,
the final grade will be calculated via a weighted sum of two
elements (homework and project) with
weights of 60% and 40%, where the weight for each element will be chosen for
each student to maximize his/her grade.
HW1, due September 11, 2012.
HW2, due September 18, 2012.
HW3, due September 25, 2012.
HW4, due October 2, 2012.
HW5, due October 10, 2012.
HW6, due November 14, 2012.
HW7, due November 21, 2012.
HW8, due December 9, 2012.
Homeworks may be submitted in written form or via email.
They must be in the instructor's possession before midnight on the
Without explicit permission from the instructor in advance,
late homework will be marked down by 30% for every day of
Linear algebra, multivariate calculus, and (preferably)
experience in programming in Matlab. Students without
all elements of this background should
check with the instructor for permission to take the class.
The instructor will use Matlab, an interactive software package and
programming environment, for her own programs. If you prefer
another language, this is fine as long as your code is intelligible.
Matlab is a product of the Mathworks; a student version costs
around $100 at the Computer Store, or you can use Matlab in
a Courant computer lab. (You will need a CIMS account.) You can use Matlab
remotely, with a few (solvable) complications if you wish to
use its graphics capabilities.
There will be an in-class, closed-book midterm during the first hour
of the class period on Tuesday, October 23.
Each student is expected to choose and complete an individual
project to demonstrate his/her creativity and mastery of important
concepts of numerical optimization.
Course projects are due in electronic form by 11:59pm on
December 14, 2012. Details about the project requirement,
including deadlines and a list of possible projects, are given at
Looking at projects from earlier classes may be helpful in
illustrating form and content.
Two excellent projects from previous courses are
from an earlier Numerical Optimization course and
from an earlier Numerical Computing course.