Constrained optimization is a method used in a lot of analytical jobs. You can use different programming languages to solve the problems or you can use existing tools.

In Excel for example you can do a What If Analysis or use the Solver Tool to solve for the best possible solutions to a problem. That problem may have several variables that can change over time.

The What If analysis is similar, but it reflects the changes that result from varying your inputs. The point is that you have a variety of data analysis tools at your disposal.

To take the example given in the article, you could easily build a worksheet filled with asset allocations for your investment portfolio. Then you could define your “Goal,” as say 10% annualized return on investment, and you can use Excel’s data analysis to find the best asset allocation that will arrive at that goal.

I am not pushing Excel, I am just saying it’s an example of a tool that you can use to do optimization.