Convex.jl - Convex Optimization in Julia

Convex.jl is a Julia package for Disciplined Convex Programming (DCP).

Convex.jl makes it easy to describe optimization problems in a natural, mathematical syntax, and to solve those problems using a variety of different (commercial and open-source) solvers.

Convex.jl can be used to solve:

  • linear programs
  • mixed-integer linear programs and mixed-integer second-order cone programs
  • DCP-compliant convex programs including
    • second-order cone programs (SOCP)
    • exponential cone programs
    • semidefinite programs (SDP)

Resources for getting started

There are a few ways to get started with Convex:


Need help? Join the community forum to search for answers to commonly asked questions.

Before asking a question, make sure to read the post make it easier to help you, which contains a number of tips on how to ask a good question.

How the documentation is structured

Having a high-level overview of how this documentation is structured will help you know where to look for certain things.

  • Examples contain worked examples of solving problems with Convex. Start here if you are new to Convex, or you have a particular problem class you want to model.

  • The Manual contains short code-snippets that explain how to achieve specific tasks in Convex. Look here if you want to know how to achieve a particular task.

  • The Developer docs section contains information for people contributing to Convex development. Don't worry about this section if you are using Convex to formulate and solve problems as a user.

Extended formulations and the DCP ruleset

Convex.jl works by transforming the problem (which possibly has nonsmooth, nonlinear constructions like the nuclear norm, the log determinant, and so forth—into) a linear optimization problem subject to conic constraints. This reformulation often involves adding auxiliary variables, and is called an "extended formulation," since the original problem has been extended with additional variables. These formulations rely on the problem being modeled by combining Convex.jl's "atoms" or primitives according to certain rules which ensure convexity, called the disciplined convex programming (DCP) ruleset. If these atoms are combined in a way that does not ensure convexity, the extended formulations are often invalid. As a simple example, consider the problem

model = minimize(abs(x), x >= 1, x <= 2)

The optimum occurs at x=1, but let us imagine we want to solve this problem via Convex.jl using a linear programming (LP) solver.

Since abs is a nonlinear function, we need to reformulate the problem to pass it to the LP solver. We do this by introducing an auxiliary variable t and instead solving:

model = minimize(t, x >= 1, x <= 2, t >= x, t >= -x)

That is, we add the constraints t >= x and t >= -x, and replace abs(x) by t. Since we are minimizing over t and the smallest possible t satisfying these constraints is the absolute value of x, we get the right answer. This reformulation worked because we were minimizing abs(x), and that is a valid way to use the primitive abs.

If we were maximizing abs, Convex.jl would error with

Problem not DCP compliant: objective is not DCP

Why? Well, let us consider the same reformulation for a maximization problem. The original problem is:

model = maximize(abs(x), x >= 1, x <= 2)

and the maximum of 2, obtained at x = 2. If we do the same reformulation as above, however, we arrive at the problem:

maximize(t, x >= 1, x <= 2, t >= x, t >= -x)

whose solution is infinity.

In other words, we got the wrong answer by using the reformulation, since the extended formulation was only valid for a minimization problem. Convex.jl always performs these reformulations, but they are only guaranteed to be valid when the DCP ruleset is followed. Therefore, Convex.jl programmatically checks the whether or not these rules were satisfied and errors if they were not.