Mathematical optimization is an indispensable modeling and computational tool for all science and engineering fields. It cuts deeply into all of the five MnDRIVE areas, e.g., sensing and control in robotics, precision agriculture in global food, MRI imaging and automated diagnosis for brain conditions, and statistical analysis of cancer clinical trials results. Over the past decades, researchers have developed numerous foolproof techniques and user-friendly software packages to solve convex optimization problems, a small fraction of optimization problems with benign structures. However, practical problems are often nonconvex, nonsmooth, and constrained, and hence unamenable to these existing computational tools.

Professor Ju Sun (Computer Science and Engineering; MSI PI) and his student Buyun Liang (Computer Science and Engineering; master’s student) and other collaborators are building scalable and user-friendly numerical optimization packages for solving these more challenging practical problems, by revamping a package called GRANSO. The proposed software package will be distributed and actively maintained for wider community usage, and will also be used to study constrained forms of deep learning that can substantially expand the scope of AI for science and engineering. This project will utilize MSI resources. The package is maintained at .

This project recently received a UMII Seed Grant. UMII Seed Grant funds are intended to promote, catalyze, accelerate and advance U of M-based informatics research in areas related to the MnDRIVE initiative (link:, so that U of M faculty and staff are well prepared to compete for longer term external funding opportunities. This project falls under all research areas of the MnDRIVE initiative:

  • Robotics, Sensors and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Global Food Ventures
  • Advancing Industry, Conserving Our Environment
  • Discoveries and Treatments for Brain Conditions
  • Cancer Clinical Trials

Research Computing partners:

  • University of Minnesota Informatics Institute
  • Minnesota Supercomputing Institute
schematic of computer graph and images representing genetics, brain science, robotics, and agriculture