Julia bindings for OptimPack, a library for solving large scale optimization problems
Author emmt
6 Stars
Updated Last
1 Year Ago
Started In
November 2014


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OptimPack.jl is the Julia interface to OptimPack, a C library for solving large scale optimization problems.


Installation using pre-compiled libraries

From a Julia session, press ] to enter the Pkg REPL and type the following commands:

(...) pkg> add https://github.com/emmt/OptimPack.jl

to install and build the package. This just has to be done once.

To use the package in your code:

using OptimPack

Installation with your own compiled libraries

By default, the package manager will attend to download precompiled OptimPack libraries for your architecture so that you have nothing to compile. These libraries are provided by the OptimPackBuilder project. If your system is not part of the supported platforms or if you want to use OptimPack libraries compiled and installed by yourself (see intructions at official OptimPack repository) then you have to define 4 environment variables before building OptimPack.jl package. Each of these environment variables specifies the full path to one of the OptimPack dynamic libraries. These environment variables can be set before starting Julia or at Julia REPL, for instance by:

ENV["OPTIMPACK_OPK_LIB"] = "/usr/local/lib/libopk.so"
ENV["OPTIMPACK_COBYLA_LIB"] = "/usr/local/lib/libcobyla.so"
ENV["OPTIMPACK_BOBYQA_LIB"] = "/usr/local/lib/libbobyqa.so"
ENV["OPTIMPACK_NEWUOA_LIB"] = "/usr/local/lib/libnewuoa.so"

Then proceed as for the other installation method: press ] to enter the Pkg REPL and type the following commands:

(...) pkg> add https://github.com/emmt/OptimPack.jl

You may use URL git@github.com:emmt/OptimPack.jl if you want to use SSH instead of HTTPS.

If you define the environment variables after adding OptimPack.jl package, just re-build the package:

(...) pkg> build OptimPack

Unconstrained Minimization of a Nonlinear Smooth Function

There are two methods in OptimPack to minimize a nonlinear smooth multivariate function without constraints: non-linear conjugate gradient (NLCG) implemented by nlcg and limited memory variable metric method (VMLM) implemented by vmlm. In general, vmlm is more efficient than nlcg but may require more memory.

The easiest way to use these minimizers is to provide a Julia function, say fg!, which is in charge of computing the value of the function and its gradient for given variables. This function must have the form:

function fg!(x, g)
   g[...] = ... # store the gradient of the function
   f = ...      # compute the function value
   return f     # return the function value

where the arguments x and g are Julia arrays (same types and dimensions) with, on entry, x storing the variables and, on exit, g storing the gradient. The user defined function shall return the function value.

Nonlinear Conjugate Gradient (NLCG)

The solution x can be computed by one of the implemented nonlinear conjugate gradient methods with:

x = nlcg(fg!, x0, method)

where x0 gives the initial value of the variables (as well as the data type and dimensions of the solution). x0 is a Julia dense array with any dimensions and with elements of type Float64 or Float32. Argument method is optional and can be used to choose among the different implemented methods (see below).

The keyword verb can be set true to print information at each iteration. Other keywords are described in the following sub-sections.

Method Settings

The different nonlinear conjugate gradient methods mainly differ by the way they compute the search direction. The conjugate gradient iteration writes:

x_{k+1} = x_{k} + alpha_{k} * d_{k}

with alpha_{k} the step length and where the search direction d_{k} is derived from the gradient g(x_{k}) of the objective function at the current point x_{k} and from the previous search direction d_{k-1} by an update rule which depends on the specific method. Typically:

d_{k} = -g(x_{k}) + beta_{k} * d_{k-1}

where beta_{k} is computed following different recipes. To choose which recipe to use, the value of the method argument can be set to one of the following values:

  • OptimPack.NLCG_FLETCHER_REEVES for Fletcher & Reeve method;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_HESTENES_STIEFEL for Hestenes & Stiefel method;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_POLAK_RIBIERE_POLYAK for Polak, Ribière & Polyak method;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_FLETCHER for Fletcher "Conjugate Descent" method;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_LIU_STOREY for Liu & Storey method;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_DAI_YUAN for Dai & Yuan method;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_PERRY_SHANNO for Perry & Shanno update rule;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_HAGER_ZHANG for Hager & Zhang method.

The above values can be bitwise or'ed with the following bits:

  • OptimPack.NLCG_POWELL to force parameter beta to be nonnegative;
  • OptimPack.NLCG_SHANNO_PHUA to guess the step length following the prescription of Shanno & Phua.

For instance:


merely corresponds to PRP+ algorithm by Polak, Ribière & Polyak; while:


merely corresponds to the nonlinear conjugate gradient method implemented in CONMIN (Shanno & Phua, 1980).

The default settings for nonlinear conjugate gradient is:


Stopping Criteria

The nonlinear conjugate gradient methods are iterative algorithms, the convergence is assumed to be achieved when the Euclidean norm of the gradient is smaller than a threshold. In pseudo-code, the criterion is:

||g(x)|| <= max(0, gatol, grtol*||g(x0)||)

where ||g(x)|| is the Euclidean norm of the gradient at the current solution x, ||g(x0)|| is the Euclidean norm of the initial gradient at x0, gatol is an absolute threshold parameter and grtol is a relative threshold parameter. The keywords gatol and grtol can be used to specify other values for these parameters than the default ones which are gatol = 0.0 and grtol = 1E-6.

It may be desirable to limit the time spent by the algorithm. To that end, the keywords maxiter and maxeval are available to specify the maximum number of iterations and evaluations of the algorithm respectively. Their default values is -1 which means that there are no restrictions. For now, the algorithm can only be safely stopped at an acceptable iterate, thus the maximum number of allowed function evaluations may slightly exceed the value of maxeval.

Line Search Settings

The keyword lnsrch can be used to specify another line search method than the default one:

x = nlcg(fg!, x0, method, lnsrch=ls)

where ls is one of the implemented line search methods:

ls = OptimPack.ArmijoLineSearch(ftol=...)
ls = OptimPack.MoreThuenteLineSearch(ftol=..., gtol=..., xtol=...)
ls = OptimPack.NonmonotoneLineSearch(mem=..., ftol=..., amin=..., amax=...)

with ftol the tolerance on the function reduction for the Armijo or first Wolfe condition, gtol the tolerance on the gradient for the second (strong) Wolfe condition, xtol the relative precision for the step length (set to the machine relative precision by default), mem the number of previous steps to remember for the nonmonotone line search, keywords amin and amax set the lower steplength bound and the upper steplength relative bound to trigger bissection in nonmonotone line search. By default, the values used in SPG2 are used for the nonmonotone line search: mem = 10, ftol = 1E-4, amin = 0.1 and amax = 0.9.

The line search is safeguarded by imposing lower and upper bounds on the step. In nlcg and vmlm, keywords stpmin and stpmax can be used to specify the step bounds relatively to the size of the first step for each line search. Their default values are: stpmin = 1E-20 and stpmax = 1E+20; if specified, they must be such that: 0 <= stpmin < stpmax.

Variable Metric with Limited Memory (VMLM)

Alternatively, the solution x can be computed by a limited memory version of the variable metric method (implementing BFGS updates) with:

x = vmlm(fg!, x0, m)

where the optional argument m is the number of previous steps to memorize (by default m = 3) while other arguments have the same meaning as for nlcg.

Keywords verb, gatol, grtol, lnsrch, stpmin and stpmax can also be specified for vmlm and have the same meaning as for nlcg.

In addition to these keywords, you can specify how to scale the inverse Hessian in variable metric method via the scaling keyword:

scaling = OptimPack.SCALING_NONE             # to use a unit scaling (no scaling)
scaling = OptimPack.SCALING_OREN_SPEDICATO   # to scale by: gamma1 = <s,y>/<y,y>
scaling = OptimPack.SCALING_BARZILAI_BORWEIN # to scale by: gamma2 = <s,s>/<s,y>

where <s,y> denotes the inner product between the previous step s and gradient difference y.

Spectral Projected Gradient Method

The spectral projected gradient (SPG2) method of Birgin, Martinez & Raydan can be used for solving large constrained optimization problems. The usage of the SPG2 method is documented here.

Low-level Interface

Operations on Vectors

To create a vector space for vectors of dimensions dims and element type T:

space = OptimPack.DenseVectorSpace(T, dims)

where T is Float32 or Float64 (or any type alias of these, e.g. Cfloat or Cdouble) and dims is a tuple of the dimensions.

It is also possible to wrap a vector around a specific Julia array:

vect = OptimPack.wrap(space, arr)

where space is an OptimPack shaped vector space and arr is a Julia array. The element type and dimension list of the array must match those of the vector space. A method is available to change the contents of such a vector:

OptimPack.wrap!(vect, arr2)

where arr2 is another Julia array (the same constraints on the element type and dimensions apply).

Note that arr must be a dense array (of type DenseArray) as the elements of shaped vectors are supposed to be stored contiguously in memory. OptimPack offers the possibility to create custom vector spaces and this will be exploited in a near future to allow for other flavors of Julia arrays.

Error Management

Run-time errors throw Julia exception.

Required Packages

Used By Packages

No packages found.