Excerpts from book:

This book is about convex optimization, a special class of mathematical optimization problems, which includes least-squares and linear programming problems. It is well known that least-squares and linear programming problems have a fairly complete theory, arise in a variety of applications, and can be solved numerically very efficiently. The basic point of this book is that the same can be said for the larger class of convex optimization problems.

There are great advantages to recognizing or formulating a problem as a convex optimization problem. The most basic advantage is that the problem can then be solved, very reliably and efficiently, using interior-point methods or other special methods for convex optimization. These solution methods are reliable enough to be embedded in a computer-aided design or analysis tool, or even a real-time reactive or automatic control system. There are also theoretical or conceptual advantages of formulating a problem as a convex optimization problem. The associated dual problem, for example, often has an interesting interpretation in terms of the original problem, and sometimes leads to an efficient or distributed method for solving it.

We think that convex optimization is an important enough topic that everyone who uses computational mathematics should know at least a little bit about it. In our opinion, convex optimization is a natural next topic after advanced linear algebra (topics like least-squares, singular values), and linear programming.

Our main goal is to help the reader develop a working knowledge of convex optimization, i.e., to develop the skills and background needed to recognize, formulate, and solve convex optimization problems.

Audience:

This book is meant for the researcher, scientist, or engineer who uses mathematical optimization, or more generally, computational mathematics. This includes, naturally, those working directly in optimization and operations research, and also many others who use optimization, in fields like computer science, economics, finance, statistics, data mining, and many fields of science and engineering. Our primary focus is on the latter group, the potential users of convex optimization, and not the (less numerous) experts in the field of convex optimization.

The only background required of the reader is a good knowledge of advanced calculus and linear algebra. If the reader has seen basic mathematical analysis (e.g., norms, convergence, elementary topology), and basic probability theory, he or she should be able to follow every argument and discussion in the book. We hope that readers who have not seen analysis and probability, however, can still get all of the essential ideas and important points. Prior exposure to numerical computing or optimization is not needed, since we develop all of the needed material from these areas in the text or appendices.