Q & A with Warren Hare on his just published textbook and how it came together

Warren Hare

Warren Hare (right) with co-author Charles Audet.

Warren Hare, an associate professor at the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Science, recently co-authored a new textbook with Dr. Charles Audet of Polytechnique Montréal. “Derivative-Free and Blackbox Optimization” helps fill the gap for quality, accessible material needed in a new and rapidly growing sub-field of computer science.

We caught up with Warren to learn more.
What’s different about this book from others in the subject?

DFO/BBO (derivative-free optimization/blackbox optimization) is a very new and rapidly growing field in computer science. Currently, there is only one other book in the field and it’s targeted at the professor-level research stream. That book is partly responsible for the massive growth in DFO/BBO research, but we hope that our book will take on more of a teaching role and allow a new generation of researchers to enter the field.

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who has real-world optimization problems to solve that cannot be approached by traditional methods.

In the past, many practitioners have created ad hoc methods, resulting in a lot of papers being published with only small improvements. The methods covered in this book are easy to use, have proven results, and have a track record of practical success. We hope that practitioners will use these methods to create more consistent starting points for future applications.

(At UBCO, the book will be used for MATH 462/MATH 562 "Derivative-Free Optimization".)

How did this project come about?

The idea of the project began in 2015, as I prepared for my study leave year. Charles Audet (Polytechnique Montréal), Sebastien le Digabel (Polytechnique Montréal) and I all knew each other from various conferences and publications.

I knew Charles and Sebastien had both taught DFO as an undergraduate course, so I asked them if they thought it was time to have a textbook on the subject. They eagerly agreed, so a good portion of my study leave was spent at Polytechnique Montréal working on the text. Sebastien begged off the project when he was blessed with his second child, so Charles and I took on the task ourselves.

What’s next?

Actually, Charles and I have been commissioned to write a chapter titled "Model-based methods in derivative-free nonsmooth optimization" for another book. It's turning into a fun piece, and very well could lead to a graduate chapter in the next edition. I also have several graduate students and one post-doc working in this new field, so I’m excited to see what the future holds!

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