© 2007

Ordinal Optimization

Soft Optimization for Hard Problems


Table of contents

About this book


Performance evaluation of increasingly complex human-made systems requires the use of simulation models.  However, these systems are difficult to describe and capture by succint mathematical models.  The purpose of this book is to address the difficulties of the optimization of complex systems via simulation models or other computation-intensive models involving possible stochastic effects and discrete choices.  This book establishes distinct advantages of the "softer" ordinal approach for search-based type problems, analyzes its general properties, and shows the many orders of magnitude improvement in computational efficiency that is possible. 


Alignment Kolmogorov equivalence Performance Simulation complex simulation models exponential convergence optimization ordinal optimization search based methods universal alignment

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Tsinghua UniversityChina

About the authors

Yu-Chi Ho (lead author) is the only author whose book in the system/control field has the distinction of being a SCI Citation Classic* as the most referenced book on the subject.  After 37 years, his book is still selling about 500 copies per year without a revision.

Applied Optimal Control (with A.E. Bryson Jr.); Hemisphere-Wiley 1975, first published by Xerox College Publishing 1969.

*Citation Classic, SCIENCE CITATION INDEX (CURRENT CONTENTS) 2/25/80, Vol. 11, No. 8, as the most cited reference on the subject.

Dr. Ho is the founding editor of the international journal, Discrete Event Dynamic Systems.  He is the recipient of various fellowships and awards including the Guggenheim (1970), the IEEE Field Award for Control Engineering and Science (1989), the Chiang Technology Achievement Award (1993), the American Automatic Control Council Bellman Control Heritage Award (1999), the ASME Rufus Oldenburger Award (1999), and the Isaacs Award from the International Society of Dynamic Games (2004).  Dr. Ho is an IEEE Life Fellow and an INFORMS Inaugural Fellow (elected 2002), a Distinguished Member of the IEEE Control Systems Society, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In addition to serving on various governmental and industrial panels, and professional society administrative bodies, Dr. Ho was the President of the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society in 1988.


Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

"This book addresses the difficulties of optimization of complex systems via simulation models or computation-intensive models involving possible stochastic effects and discrete choice. The tools described here can be used separately or in addition to other methodological tools of optimization. … The book is recommended for good engineers and designers dealing with complex problems of optimization." (Constantin Varsan, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1123 (1), 2008)

“This unique book arose out of the pioneering efforts of Yu-Chi Ho and his colleagues … and his students to address complex problems that arise routinely in engineering design and that, because of their complexity, cannot be solved using standard optimization tools. … This book provides a refreshingly original approach to complex design problems … . It will greatly interest practitioners and researchers concerned with optimization for hard problems.”­­­ (D. Q. Mayne, Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Vol. 145, April, 2010)