CUTEst tutorial

by Abel Soares Siqueira and Dominique Orban

JSON 0.21.4 NLPModels 0.19.2 Plots 1.39.0 CUTEst 0.13.2 Krylov 0.9.4


CUTEst can be accessed in two ways.

  • The first, easiest, and recommended for most users, is using the NLPModels.jl. This is recommended because if you develop something for this an NLPModel, then it can work with CUTEst, but also with other models.

  • The second is the core interface, which is just a wrapper of the Fortran functions, and is not recommended unless you really need and know what you're doing

NLPModels interface

NLPModels defines an abstract interface to access the objective, constraints, derivatives, etc. of the problem. A reference guide is available to check what you need.

Once CUTEst has been installed, open a problem with

using CUTEst

nlp = CUTEstModel("ROSENBR")
Problem name: ROSENBR
   All variables: ████████████████████ 2      All constraints: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
            free: ████████████████████ 2                 free: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
           lower: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0                lower: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
           upper: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0                upper: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
         low/upp: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0              low/upp: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
           fixed: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0                fixed: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
          infeas: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0               infeas: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
            nnzh: (  0.00% sparsity)   3               linear: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
                                                    nonlinear: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
                                                         nnzj: (------% sparsity)

That's it. You can use nlp like any other NLPModel, with one important exception. You have to finalize the model after using it. To be exact, you have to finalize it before opening a new one. There is no problem in closing Julia before finalizing it, for instance.


Being a NLPModel means that everything created for an AbstractNLPModel will work for CUTEstModel. For instance, JSOSolvers.jl has implementations of optimization methods for AbstractNLPModels.

Let's make some demonstration of the CUTEstModel.

using CUTEst, NLPModels

nlp = CUTEstModel("ROSENBR")
println("x0 = $( nlp.meta.x0 )")
println("fx = $( obj(nlp, nlp.meta.x0) )")
println("gx = $( grad(nlp, nlp.meta.x0) )")
println("Hx = $( hess(nlp, nlp.meta.x0) )")
x0 = [-1.2, 1.0]
fx = 24.199999999999996
gx = [-215.59999999999997, -87.99999999999999]
Hx = [1330.0 480.0; 480.0 200.0]

Remember to check the API in case of doubts about these functions.

Notice how hess returns a symmetric matrix. For decompositions that should be enough. For iterative solvers, you may want \(\nabla^2 f(x) v\) instead, so only the lower triangle won't do. But you do have

v = ones(nlp.meta.nvar)
hprod(nlp, nlp.meta.x0, v)
2-element Vector{Float64}:

You can also use a LinearOperator,

H = hess_op(nlp, nlp.meta.x0)
H * v
2-element Vector{Float64}:

This way, you can use a Krylov method to solve the linear system with the Hessian as matrix. For instance, here is an example computation of a Newton trust-region step.

using Krylov

function newton()
  Delta = 10.0
  x = nlp.meta.x0
  println("0: x = $x")
  for i = 1:5
    print("$i: ")
    H = hess_op(nlp, x)
    d, stats =, -grad(nlp, x), radius=Delta)
    x = x + d
    println("x = $x")


There is no difference in calling a constrained problem, only that some additional functions are available.

using CUTEst, NLPModels

nlp = CUTEstModel("HS35")

x = nlp.meta.x0

cons(nlp, x)

jac(nlp, x)
1×3 SparseArrays.SparseMatrixCSC{Float64, Int64} with 3 stored entries:
 -1.0  -1.0  -2.0

To find out whether these constraints are equalities or inequalities we can check nlp.meta


Problem name: HS35
   All variables: ████████████████████ 3      All constraints: ████████████████████ 1     
            free: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0                 free: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
           lower: ████████████████████ 3                lower: ████████████████████ 1     
           upper: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0                upper: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
         low/upp: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0              low/upp: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
           fixed: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0                fixed: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
          infeas: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0               infeas: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
            nnzh: ( 16.67% sparsity)   5               linear: ████████████████████ 1     
                                                    nonlinear: ⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ 0     
                                                         nnzj: (  0.00% sparsity)   3

Selection tool

CUTEst comes with a simple selection tool. It uses a static file generated from the original CLASSF.DB and an execution of each problem.

The selection tool works like a filter on the complete set of problems. Using the tool without arguments will return the complete set of problems.

problems =

The list of keyword arguments to filter the problems is given below, with their default value.

min_var0Minimum number of variables
max_varInfMaximum number of variables
min_con0Minimum number of constraints (not bounds)
max_conInfMaximum number of constraints
objtypeall typesType of the objective function. See below.
contypeall typesType of the constraints. See below.
only_free_varfalseWhether to exclude problems with bounded variables.
only_bnd_varfalseWhether to exclude problem with any free variables.
only_linear_confalseWhether to exclude problems with nonlinear constraints.
only_nonlinear_confalseWhether to exclude problems with any linear constraints.
only_equ_confalseWhether to exclude problems with inequality constraints
only_ineq_confalseWhether to exclude problems with equality constraints
custom_filternothingA custom filter to be applied to the entries. This requires knowledge of the inner structure, and is present only because we haven't implemented every useful combination yet. We welcome pull-requests with implementations of additional queries.
"none" or "N"There is no objective function.
"constants" or "C"The objective function is constant.
"linear" or "L"The objective function is linear.
"quadratic" or "Q"The objective function is quadratic.
"sumofsquares" or "S"The objective function is a sum of squares.
"other" or "O"The objective function is none of the above.
"unc" or "U"There are no constraints nor bounds on the variables.
"fixed_vars" or "X"The only constraints are fixed variables.
"bounds" or "B"The only constraints are bounds on the variables.
"network" or "N"The constraints represent the adjacency matrix of a linear network.
"linear" or "L"The constraints are linear.
"quadratic" or "Q"The constraints are quadratic.
"other" or "O"The constraints are more general than any of the above.

The selection tool is not as complete as we would like. Some combinations are still hard to create. Below we create some of the simpler ones.

Unconstrained problems

No constraints and no bounds. There are two options:

problems =, only_free_var=true)

problems ="unc")

Equality/Inequality constrainted problems with unbounded variables

problems =, only_equ_con=true, only_free_var=true)

problems =, only_ineq_con=true, only_free_var=true)

Size range

problems =, max_var=2000, min_con=100, max_con=500)

Sum-of-squares problems with bounds

problems ="sum_of_squares", contype="bounds")

Quadratic programming with linear constraints.

problems ="quadratic", contype="linear")