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Network optimization is a special type of linear programming model.
Network models have three main advantages over linear programming:
- They can be solved very quickly. Problems whose linear program
would have 1000 rows and 30,000 columns can be solved in a matter of
seconds. This allows network models to be used in many applications
(such as real-time decision making) for which linear programming would
- They have naturally integer solutions. By recognizing that a
problem can be formulated as a network program, it is possible to
solve special types of integer programs without resorting to the
ineffective and time consuming integer programming algorithms.
- They are intuitive. Network models provide a language for
talking about problems that is much more intuitive than the
``variables, objective, and constraints'' language of linear and
Of course these advantages come with a drawback: network models
cannot formulate the wide range of models that linear and integer
programs can. However, they occur often enough that they form an
important tool for real decision making.
Michael A. Trick
Sun Jun 14 13:20:08 EDT 1998