Funding push for new open-source MILP solver HiGHS

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Tom Brown

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Mar 31, 2022, 5:22:52 AMMar 31
to openmod list, Julian Hall
Dear open-minded modellers,

We are pleased to announce a funding push for the new kid on the
open-source MILP solver block, HiGHS:

https://pypsa-meets-africa.github.io/highs

Please donate generously and tap your donor networks for bigger sums!
We're aiming to raise USD 114,000 in the first year for the developer
team at the University of Edinburgh led by Julian Hall, with more to
follow. There is a funky PDF for sharing with potential donors.

I'm not sure this crowd needs the hard-sell on this, but here we go:

As a community we have made lots of progress in developing open energy
models (of which there may now be too many...) and some progress in
opening up important energy datasets. But the missing piece has always
been solvers. Academics can get licences for commercial solvers, but
NGOs, non-NGO interest groups, companies, ministries and even academics
running interactive websites cannot afford licences running up to USD
45,000 a year. Unfortunately established open solvers like GLPK and cbc
don't cut it for large energy system problems. Beyond cost, there is
obviously a big benefit for the optimisation community to have insight
into how the code works and develop it further.

HiGHS, led by a research team around Julian Hall at Uni Edinburgh, has
entered the scene and stolen the show with performance that gives Gurobi
a run for its money:

https://forum.openmod.org/t/open-source-highs-solver-performance-boost-for-energy-system-models/2922

Based on discussions with the developer team, they reckon there is some
lowish-hanging fruit to boost the performance of HiGHS for energy system
problems. In response, Max Parzen has led this effort to coordinate a
funding push, with some help from Julian Hall, Jesse Jenkins and me, as
well as from other members of the modelling community who have offered
"impact statements".

Thanks for helping us boost this effort - the whole energy community
will benefit from performant open source solvers, and probably many
other communities doing optimisation too!

Best wishes,

Tom





--
Tom Brown (he/him)
Professor of Digital Transformation in Energy Systems
Institute of Energy Technology
Technische Universität Berlin

Group website: https://tub-ensys.github.io/
Personal website: https://nworbmot.org/

Visitor Address:
Einsteinufer 25 (TA 8)
10587 Berlin

Tom Brown

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Jul 20, 2022, 1:27:10 PMJul 20
to openmod list, Julian Hall
Dear openmodders,

Some good news: the new HiGHS high-performance open-source solver has
received its first major donation of $76,000 from Invenia Labs, a
company specialising in applying machine learning to real-world
problems, including optimising electricity grids:

https://www.invenia.ca/labs/

That's enough to kickstart a new wave of development for HiGHS.

There should be a few more major donations coming in the pipeline too,
fingers crossed.

The crowd-sourcing from individuals has so far raised $1,607:

https://crowdfunding.lfx.linuxfoundation.org/projects/9b777a28-c660-4490-ad00-fa314a731515

That might seem meagre in comparison, but it helped to raise awareness
about HiGHS in various channels, and to encourage bigger donors that
there was a ground swell of interest out there with real folks willing
to put cash on the table.

Thanks again to Max Parzen, Julian Hall and Jesse Jenkins for organising
the push, and all those who banged the drum in public and behind closed
doors.

Best wishes,

Tom
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