8. Lowlevel interface¶
FORCESPRO supports designing solvers and controllers via MATLAB and Python scripts. When using the MATLAB client, a Simulink block is always created such that you can plug your advanced formulation directly into your simulation models, or download it to a realtime target platform.
The lowlevel interface gives advanced optimization users the full flexibility when designing custom optimization solvers and MPC controllers based on nonstandard formulations.
This interface is provided with all variants of FORCESPRO, starting with Variant S.
8.1. Supported problem class¶
The FORCESPRO lowlevel interface supports the class of convex multistage quadratically constrained programs (QCQPs) of the form
for \(i=1,...,N\) and \(k=1,...,M\). To obtain a solver for this optimization program using the FORCESPRO client, you need to define all data in the problem, that is the matrices \(H_i\), \(A_i\), \(Q_{i,j}\), \(D_i\), \(C_i\) and the vectors \(\underline{z}_i < \bar{z}_i\), \(b_i\), \(L_{i,k}\), \(r_{i,k}\), \(c_i\), in a MATLAB struct or Python dictionary, along with the corresponding dimensions. The following steps will take you through this process. Importantly, the matrices \(H_i\) and \(Q_{i,j}\) should all be positive definite.
Note
FORCESPRO supports all problem data to be parametric, i.e. to be unknown at code generation time. Read Section 12 to learn how to use parameters correctly.
In the following, we describe how to model a problem of the above form with FORCESPRO. First make sure that the FORCESPRO client is on the MATLAB/Python path. See Section 3 for more details on how to set up the MATLAB client and Section 3.3.
After the PYTHONPATH has been appropriately set up to include your FORCESPRO client directory (see Section 3.3.3), Python users have to import the FORCESPRO module and their user ID.
import forcespro
import get_userid
8.2. Multistage struct¶
First, an empty struct/class has to be initialized, which contains all fields needed and initialises matrices and vectors to empty matrices. The command
stages = MultistageProblem(N);
stages = forcespro.MultistagePoblem(N) # 0indexed
creates such an empty structure/class of length \(N\). Once this structure/class has been created, the corresponding matrices, vectors and dimensions can be set for each element of stages.
8.3. Dimensions¶
In order to define the dimensions of the stage variables \(z_i\), the number of lower and upper bounds, the number of polytopic inequality constraints and the number of quadratic constraints use the following fields:
stages(i).dims.n = ...; % length of stage variable zi
stages(i).dims.r = ...; % number of equality constraints
stages(i).dims.l = ...; % number of lower bounds
stages(i).dims.u = ...; % number of upper bounds
stages(i).dims.p = ...; % number of polytopic constraints
stages(i).dims.q = ...; % number of quadratic constraints
# 0indexed
stages.dims[i]['n'] = ... # length of stage variable zi
stages.dims[i]['r'] = ... # number of equality constraints
stages.dims[i]['l'] = ... # number of lower bounds
stages.dims[i]['u'] = ... # number of upper bounds
stages.dims[i]['p'] = ... # number of polytopic constraints
stages.dims[i]['q'] = ... # number of quadratic constraints
8.4. Cost function¶
The cost function is, for each stage, defined by the matrix \(H_i\) and the vector \(f_i\). These can be set by
stages(i).cost.H = ...; % Hessian
stages(i).cost.f = ...; % linear term
# 0indexed
stages.cost[i]['H'] = ... # Hessian
stages.cost[i]['f'] = ... # linear term
Note: whenever one of these terms is zero, you have to set them to zero (otherwise the default of an empty matrix is assumed, which is different from a zero matrix).
H_i
should be square of size dims[i]['n']
/ stages(i).dims.n
and f_i
should also be of that length. It does not matter whether you use a column or row vector for f
.
8.5. Equality constraints¶
The equality constraints for each stage, which are given by the matrices \(C_{i1}\), \(D_i\) and the vector \(c_i\), have to be provided in the following form:
The matrices \(C_{i1}, D_i\) should have dimension dims[i]['r']
by dims[i]['n']
and \(c_i\) should be of length dim[i]['r']
.
Note the index shift in \(C_{i1}\). In particular you should take care, that the vertical dimension of \(C_{i1}\) matches dim[i]['r']
and not i1
.
stages(i).eq.C = ...;
stages(i).eq.c = ...;
stages(i).eq.D = ...;
# 0indexed
stages.eq[i]['C'] = ...
stages.eq[i]['c'] = ...
stages.eq[i]['D'] = ...
In many parts of the literature a different notation is given for interstage equality, which places the next index on the right hand side of the equation like so:
with states \(x_{i}\) and control inputs \(u_{i}\).
The correct way to translate this to FORCESPRO is as follows:
where \(z_i = (u_i, x_i)\). Note that the number of columns of \(\mathbf{Id}\) must match the size of \(x_i\).
There is the common case of a fixed initial value \(x_1 = x_{init}\). This can be implemented by adding an equality constraint for \(i=1\):
Alternatively, one stage can be eliminated by defining the state space as \(z_i = (u_i, x_{i+1})\) for \(i=1,\dots N1\) (thus removing \(x_1\) and \(u_N\)). For that choice, the interstage equalities are given by:
8.6. Lower and upper bounds¶
Lower and upper bounds have to be set in sparse format, i.e. an index vector lbIdx/ubIdx that defines the elements of the stage variable \(z_i\) has to be provided, along with the corresponding upper/lower bound lb/ub:
These index vectors will be the same in both Matlab and Python, which means that the Python indices need to be adjusted to match Matlab’s 1indexed style.
stages(i).ineq.b.lbidx = ...; % index vector for lower bounds
stages(i).ineq.b.lb = ...; % lower bounds
stages(i).ineq.b.ubidx = ...; % index vector for upper bounds
stages(i).ineq.b.ub = ...; % upper bounds
stages.ineq[ i ]['b']['lbidx'] = ... # index vector for lower bounds, 1indexed
stages.ineq[ i ]['b']['lb'] = ... # lower bounds
stages.ineq[ i ]['b']['ubidx'] = ... # index vector for upper bounds, 1indexed
stages.ineq[ i ]['b']['ub'] = ... # upper bounds
Both lb
and lbIdx
must have length stages(i).dims.l
/ stages.dims[ i ]['l']
, and both ub
and ubIdx
must have length stages(i).dims.u
/ stages.dims[ i ]['u']
.
8.7. Polytopic constraints¶
In order to define the inequality \(A_iz_i\leq b_i\), use
stages(i).ineq.p.A = ...; % Jacobian of linear inequality
stages(i).ineq.p.b = ...; % RHS of linear inequality
# 0indexed
stages.ineq[i]['p']['A'] = ... # Jacobian of linear inequality
stages.ineq[i]['p']['b'] = ... # RHS of linear inequality
The matrix A must have stages(i).dims.p / stages.dims[ i ][‘p’] rows and stages(i).dims.n / stages.dims[ i ][‘n’] columns. The vector b must have stages(i).dims.p / stages.dims[ i ][‘p’] rows.
8.8. Quadratic constraints¶
Similar to lower and upper bounds, quadratic constraints are given in sparse form by means of an index vector, which determines on which variables the corresponding quadratic constraint acts.
stages(i).ineq.q.idx = { idx1, idx2, …}; % index vectors
stages(i).ineq.q.Q = { Q1, Q2, …}; % Hessians
stages(i).ineq.q.l = { L1, L2, …}; % linear terms
stages(i).ineq.q.r = [ r1; r2; … ]; % RHSs
stages.ineq[i]['q']['idx'] = ... # index vectors, 1indexed
stages.ineq[i]['q']['Q'] = ... # Hessians
stages.ineq[i]['q']['l'] = ... # linear terms
stages.ineq[i]['q']['r'] = ... # RHSs
If the index vector idx1
has length \(m_1\), then the matrix Q
must be square and of size \(m_1\times m_1\), the column vector l1
must be of size \(m_1\) and r_1
is a scalar. Of course this dimension rules apply to all further quadratic constraints that might be present. Note that L_1
, L_2
etc. are column vectors in MATLAB!
Since multiple quadratic constraints can be present per stage, in MATLAB we make use of the cell notation for the Hessian, linear terms, and index vectors. In Python we make use of Python object arrays for the Hessians, linear terms, and index vectors.
8.8.1. Example¶
To express the two quadratic constraints
on the third stage variable, use the code
stages(3).ineq.q.idx = { [3 5], [1] } % index vectors
stages(3).ineq.q.Q = { [1 0; 0 2], [5] }; % Hessians
stages(3).ineq.q.l = { [0; 1], [0] }; % linear terms
stages(3).ineq.q.r = [ 3; 1 ]; % RHSs
stages.ineq[31]['q']['idx'] = np.zeros((2,), dtype=object) # index vectors
stages.ineq[31]['q']['idx'][0] = np.array([3,5])
stages.ineq[31]['q']['idx'][1] = np.array([1])
stages.ineq[31]['q']['Q'] = np.zeros((2,), dtype=object) # Hessians
stages.ineq[31]['q']['Q'][0] = np.array([1.0 0],[0 2.0])
stages.ineq[31]['q']['Q'][1] = np.array([5])
stages.ineq[31]['q']['l'] = np.zeros((2,), dtype=object) # linear terms
stages.ineq[31]['q']['l'][0] = np.array([0], [1])
stages.ineq[31]['q']['l'][1] = np.array([0])
stages.ineq[31]['q']['r'] = np.array([3],[1]) # RHSs
8.9. Binary constraints¶
To declare binary variables, you can use the bidx field of the stages struct or object. For example, the following code declares variables 3 and 7 of stage 1 to be binary:
stages(1).bidx = [3 7]
stages.bidx[0] = np.array([3, 7])
That’s it! You can now generate a solver that will take into account the binary constraints on these variables. If binary variables are declared, FORCESPRO will add a branchandbound procedure to the standard convex solver it generates.
8.10. Declaring parameters¶
FORCESPRO is a parametric solver. As such, it is necessary to specify which parts of the model are to be parametric.
For a detailed introduction to setting parameters, see the section Section 12.
A common choice of parameter is an \(x_{init}\) value. To set this, use the following:
parameter = newParam('xinit', 1, 'eq.c')
stages.newParam("xinit", [1], 'eq.c') # 1indexed
8.11. Declaring Solver Outputs¶
FORCESPRO gives you full control over the part of the solution that should be outputted by the solver. It is also possible to obtain the Lagrange multipliers of certain constraints. To define a standard output as a slice of the primal solution vector, use the function
output = newOutput(name, maps2stage, idxWithinStage)
stages.newOutput(name, maps2stage, idxWithinStage)
where name
is the name you give to the output (you will need this to read it after calling the solver). The index vector (or integer) maps2stage
defines
to which stage this output maps to. The last argument, idxWithinStage
allows the user to select which indices from the stage vector should be outputted by the
solver.
To define an output as a slice of certain Lagrange multipliers, use the function
output = newOutput(name, maps2stage, idxWithinStage, maps2const)
stages.newOutput(name, maps2stage, idxWithinStage, maps2const)
where the remaining argument maps2const
specifies the constraint associated with the Lagrange multipliers being requested.
maps2const 
Constraint 


Equalities 

Upper bounds 

Lower bounds 

Polytopic bounds 
8.11.1. Example¶
To define an output to be the first two elements of the primal solution vector, use the following command:
output1 = newOutput('u0', 1, 1:2)
stages.newOutput('u0', 1, range(1,3))
To define an output to be the first and third indices of the Lagrange multipliers for the equality constraints of the second stage, use the following command:
output2 = newOutput('dual_eq0', 2, [1 3], 'r')
stages.newOutput('dual_eq0', 2, [1,3], 'r')
8.12. Generating the solver¶
After the optimization problem has been formulated into a structure stages, an optimized solver can be generated. To do so, the solver requires a name and a number of solver options, as described in Section 17.
codeoptions = getOptions('solver name');
generateCode(stages, params, codeoptions, outputs);
options = forcespro.CodeOptions('solver_name')
stages.codeoptions = options
stages.generateCode(get_userid.user_id)
8.13. Calling the generated lowlevel solver¶
After solver generation has completed, the solver itself (as a compiled library) as well as several interfacing files will become available in your working directory. These files are named according to what you named your solver; in the following we assume “SOLVER_NAME”. Calling the solver from MATLAB or Python is then as simple as:
problem = {} % a struct of solver parameters
SOLVER_NAME(problem)
import SOLVER_NAME_py # notice the _py suffix
problem = {} # a dictionary of solver parameters
SOLVER_NAME_py.SOLVER_NAME_solve(problem)
Note
Don’t give your solver the same name as the script you are calling it from. Doing so will overwrite your calling script with the solver interface. For example, in a script named test_problem.m, choose a name such as test_solver instead of test_problem.
Note
The highlevel Python interface provides more convenient access to solvers generated using the highlevel interface. This method of calling a solver is only available for solvers generated through the lowlevel interface, and highlevel solvers can only be called from Python through the means described in the highlevel interface documentation.
8.14. Debugging a formulation¶
For debugging solvers returning bad exit flags (such as 7 or 10, see Exitflags), it is often helpful to convert a FORCESPRO multistage formulation into a standard (QC)QP. The function stages2qcqp is provided for that purpose. To learn how to use this function, type
help stages2qcqp;
from forcespro.debug import stages2qcqp
help(stages2qcqp)
With the Matlab client, common formulation errors can be detected automatically by making use of the utility FORCESdiagnostics (type help FORCESdiagnostics).
8.15. The QP_FAST algorithm¶
From FORCESPRO version 6.0.0 a new algorithm was introduced which allows one to generate extremely fast solvers which are especially wellsuited
for lowlevel hardware. Generating such a solver is done by specifying the model through the stages
object as explained above. The main difference in the solver generation procedure is
a tuning step which is explained in details in the following section.
Important
Currently the QP_FAST algorithm is only supported through the MATLAB client of FORCESPRO.
8.15.1. Tuning the QP_FAST algorithm¶
One of the novel features of the QP_FAST algorithm is that it can be tailored to a specific application by “tuning” it. FORCESPRO supports an automated tuning tool (see Autotuner) for choosing the optimal tuning for a given application. A key step in tuning a fast QP solver is collecting data/problems on which it can be tuned. The way to do this is to first generate a general QP (FORCESPRO) solver which does not require tuning. This is done as follows:
codeoptions.solvemethod = 'PDIP';
generateCode(stages, params, codeoptions, outputs);
# not supported
Now one or more simulations can be performed and all the problems (i.e. the inputs to the solver at runtime) which are solved should be collected and stored in a cell array
(here called problems
). We refer to problems
as the tuning data. Once tuning data has been collected, a fast QP solver can be generated and tuned as follows:
tuningoptions = ForcesAutotuneOptions(problems);
ForcesGenerateQpFastSolver(stages,params,codeoptions,tuningoptions,outputs);
# not supported
The autotuning procedure allows for quite a bit of customization which can be specified through the ForcesAutotuneOptions
object (see Autotuner Options).
You can download an example displaying the full workflow by clicking here
.
8.15.2. The QP_FAST options¶
Options specific to the QP_FAST algorithm are specified via the codeoptions.qp_fast
field (e.g. codeoptions.qp_fast.warmstart = 0;
). The following options can be set:
warmstart
: Set equal to1
(default) in order to allow runtime warmstart. Set equal to0
to not allow runtime warmstart. The runtime warmstart option creates a runtime parameter (problem.warmstart
) which if set to1
will use the solution of the previous call to the solver as initial guess. If set to0
the solver will use a default initial guess.tol_primal
: Set the tolerance for the primal residual (default is1e3
).tol_dual
: Set the tolerance for the dual residual (default is1e3
).