I am looking over for softwares recommendation in Introduction to Operations Research Hillier 11th, there are tens of options for learn and apply OR theory using software.

I normally check how much focus have a book about a specific topic, counting how much words are in the book. and this is my data:

Counting the words related to specific softwares in the Hillier book:

LINGO / LINDO 100 words / 136 words
Excel 269 words ( mostly related to .xlsx files not about excel software itself)
ASPE 250
Queuing Simulator 499
MPL ( Unresearchable at the moment )
Python 0

As you all see I am saying excel word is use in Hillier mostly for handle .xlsx files and few examples for solving problems, more for ASPE 250, LINGO 136 and more for Queuing Simulator 499 ( Not Using CPLEX too much 21 wordsa and Gurobi 11 Words). about "Use excel only for handle data" also happen with the data science industry in this post in ds.se there are horror history using Excel for Data Science / Analytics. But what about the excel solver is good?

As an example of comparing I use this is my data about software in OR.SE:

[excel] 15 questions related to excel
[cplex] 160 questions
[gurobi] 106
[matlab] 19
[r] 12
lingo 1 
aspe 0
mpl 1
[pyomo] 81

Comparing we have a lack of CPLEX, Gurobi, Python in the Hillier book however this book is still useful for OR theory. but that's too much information for this question my main question is:

Is Excel Outdate or Useless for the OR industry?


2 Answers 2


Excel remains extensively used in industry for non-OR applications. That means that if you are doing an OR application that does not require access to a database, there's a good chance the data for the application will come to you in either an XLSX or CSV file. On the flip side, when it comes time to convey the solution provided by your application, it is fairly common to be asked to provide it in a spreadsheet.

As far as OR applications themselves, it is possible in a few cases to embed one in an Excel spreadsheet. Sufficiently small linear programs and integer linear programs can be handled by either the built-in Solver in Excel (which I believe is a stripped down version of Frontline Solver, or the full commercial version of Frontline Solver, or OpenSolver (source plug-in for Excel). Some other simple applications might be possible using VBA and/or plugins. "Chewier" applications, whether optimization, simulation, queuing/Markov chain or whatever, will likely require a separate (likely commercial) software package, which may or may not have an Excel interface.

Personally, while I might use (voluntarily or otherwise) Excel as an intermediary between my application and the user, I would not normally try to build a serious application in Excel.


Many many people know Excel and use Excel. So many OR projects start with some Excel spreadsheet. And that is why being able to read from and write to Excel is key. You may even start the project with the Excel solver.

Excel, Rocket science and optimization

Moreover Excel is a common tool when companies choose plugin optimization instead of packages, custom or tailored optimization.

enter image description here


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.