by Al Danial

Solve Global Optimization Problems in MATLAB with differential_evolution()

Part 8 of the Python Is The Ultimate MATLAB Toolbox series.



Introduction

MATLAB’s fminsearch() function finds local minima of unbounded multivariable functions. With a lucky starting guess, it may even return the global minimum. For more rigirous searches of global minima, or control over the search domain, you’ll need more powerful options such as those in the Optimization Toolbox. Alternatives to the Optimization Toolbox include global optimizers from

  1. the FileExchange, specifically a differential evolution solver as used in this post, or
  2. the scipy.optimize module, provided that you’re willing to include Python in your MATLAB workflow and implement your objective function in Python.

The first option is the most convenient for MATLAB users as it provides a pure MATLAB solution. The second option may be necessary in corporate networks that restrict access to the Internet but include Python on the same computers that have MATLAB. This post covers both options.

Differential evolution

scipy.optimize has three global optimizers: shgo(), dual_annealing(), and differential_evolution(). Of the three, the most powerful is arguably differential_evolution() which implements the Storn and Price algorithm1 of the same name.

Briefly, the differential evolution algorithm works by starting with a population of random guesses to the solution. Guesses which yield better answers to the cost function are combined to form new guesses while poorly performing guesses are eliminated. The algorithm repeats this process until the guesses converge.

An optimization problem: shape alignment

Say you have two images of a triangular widget, where the widget’s position in one image is offset from the position in the other. After some image processing, perhaps with OpenCV to identify only the corners, you’re left with these two images:

Target image on the left, known image on the right.

Target image on the left, known image on the right.

Our goal is to figure out how far to translate the shape on the right until it overlaps the one on the left (we’ll ignore rotation and assume the widgets are always oriented the same way). Simple, right? Just compute the horizontal and vertical differences of a common corner such as the upper tip:

However if the widget on the left is on a noisy background and the corner identifcation code returns many spurious points such as shown here,

then problem is much harder since there’s no clear way to determine which known point corresponds to which target point.

There exist algorithms that can compute accurate offsets quickly but here we’ll take a lazy approach and let an optimizer figure this out. The cost function can be the sum of distances from each corner of our known image to the nearest point on the target image. This sum should be zero if all three corners of the known image perfectly overlay the three nearest target points.

We’ll start with three known points on a unit grid. To this we’ll add ten target points which are made of three copies of the known points plus an offset of (-0.4, -0.2) and seven additional random points. We want an optimizer to return the offset using only the locations of the original three known points and the ten target points. The code below makes a 10 x 2 array of random coordinates for the targets then arbitrarily replaces the 3rd, 6th, and 10th points with the known points plus the offset.

Python:

In : import numpy as np
In : known = np.array([[0.6, 0.5], [0.6, 0.9], [0.7,0.5]])
In : target = np.random.rand(10,2)
In : truth_offset = np.array([-0.4, -0.2])
In : target[2,:] = known[0,:] + truth_offset
In : target[5,:] = known[1,:] + truth_offset
In : target[9,:] = known[2,:] + truth_offset

MATLAB:

>> known = [0.6 0.5; 0.6 0.9; 0.7 0.5];
>> target = rand(10,2);
>> truth_offset = [-0.4 -0.2];
>> target( 3,:) = known(1,:) + truth_offset;
>> target( 6,:) = known(2,:) + truth_offset;
>> target(10,:) = known(3,:) + truth_offset;

Python and MATLAB will come up with different random target points which will make it harder to compare solutions. To keep things consistent I’ll run the MATLAB version to produce a set of values, then hard-code these into both MATLAB and Python test environments:

Python:

known = np.array([[0.6, 0.5], [0.6, 0.9], [0.7,0.5]])
target = np.array([[ 8.147236863931789e-01, 1.576130816775483e-01],
                   [ 9.057919370756192e-01, 9.705927817606157e-01],
                   [ 2.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ],
                   [ 9.133758561390194e-01, 4.853756487228412e-01],
                   [ 6.323592462254095e-01, 8.002804688888001e-01],
                   [ 2.0e-01              , 7.0e-01              ],
                   [ 2.784982188670484e-01, 4.217612826262750e-01],
                   [ 5.468815192049838e-01, 9.157355251890671e-01],
                   [ 9.575068354342976e-01, 7.922073295595544e-01],
                   [ 3.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ]])

MATLAB:

>> known = [0.6 0.5; 0.6 0.9; 0.7 0.5];
>> target = [ 8.147236863931789e-01, 1.576130816775483e-01;
              9.057919370756192e-01, 9.705927817606157e-01;
              2.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ;
              9.133758561390194e-01, 4.853756487228412e-01;
              6.323592462254095e-01, 8.002804688888001e-01;
              2.0e-01              , 7.0e-01              ;
              2.784982188670484e-01, 4.217612826262750e-01;
              5.468815192049838e-01, 9.157355251890671e-01;
              9.575068354342976e-01, 7.922073295595544e-01;
              3.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ];

Next we need to find the closest target point for each known point To do that we’ll need to compute distances from all targets to all knowns then pick the target with the smallest distance for each known point. The pairwise distance matrix computation is simple with NumPy arrays in Python and matrices in MATLAB because both support broadcasting. With broadcasting, subtracting a row vector with nR terms from a column vector with nC terms leaves us with an nR x nC matrix of all pairwise differences:

MATLAB:

>> format short e

>> known(:,1)'
   6.0000e-01   6.0000e-01   7.0000e-01

>> target(:,1)

   8.1472e-01
   9.0579e-01
   2.0000e-01
   9.1338e-01
   6.3236e-01
   2.0000e-01
   2.7850e-01
   5.4688e-01
   9.5751e-01
   3.0000e-01

then

MATLAB:

>> target(:,1) - known(:,1)'

   2.1472e-01   2.1472e-01   1.1472e-01
   3.0579e-01   3.0579e-01   2.0579e-01
  -4.0000e-01  -4.0000e-01  -5.0000e-01
   3.1338e-01   3.1338e-01   2.1338e-01
   3.2359e-02   3.2359e-02  -6.7641e-02
  -4.0000e-01  -4.0000e-01  -5.0000e-01
  -3.2150e-01  -3.2150e-01  -4.2150e-01
  -5.3118e-02  -5.3118e-02  -1.5312e-01
   3.5751e-01   3.5751e-01   2.5751e-01
  -3.0000e-01  -3.0000e-01  -4.0000e-01

The same can be done with NumPy arrays but there one must explicitly add a second dimension to one of the two column extracts with np.newaxis. Without this step, the arrays of x coordinates are merely one dimensional arrays with no concept of row or column orientation. (A detailed explanation can be found in section 11.1.12 of my book.)

Python:

In : target[:,0][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,0]
Out:
array([[ 0.21472369,  0.21472369,  0.11472369],
       [ 0.30579194,  0.30579194,  0.20579194],
       [-0.4       , -0.4       , -0.5       ],
       [ 0.31337586,  0.31337586,  0.21337586],
       [ 0.03235925,  0.03235925, -0.06764075],
       [-0.4       , -0.4       , -0.5       ],
       [-0.32150178, -0.32150178, -0.42150178],
       [-0.05311848, -0.05311848, -0.15311848],
       [ 0.35750684,  0.35750684,  0.25750684],
       [-0.3       , -0.3       , -0.4       ]])

By extending the broadcasting idea to include the delta y computation then squaring and summing, we can get the complete 10 x 3 array of squares of distances between points with just one (long) line of code:

Python:

In : dist2 = ( target[:,0][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,0] )**2 + \
   :         ( target[:,1][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,1] )**2
In : dist2
Out:
array([[0.16333506, 0.5972446 , 0.13039033],
       [0.31496628, 0.09849205, 0.26380789],
       [0.2       , 0.52      , 0.29      ],
       [0.0984183 , 0.27011778, 0.04574313],
       [0.09121548, 0.01099111, 0.09474363],
       [0.2       , 0.2       , 0.29      ],
       [0.10948469, 0.33207567, 0.18378505],
       [0.1756576 , 0.00306918, 0.1962813 ],
       [0.21319626, 0.1394304 , 0.15169489],
       [0.13      , 0.45      , 0.2       ]])

MATLAB:

>> dist2 = ( target(:,1) - known(:,1)' ).^2 + ...
           ( target(:,2) - known(:,2)' ).^2

   1.6334e-01   5.9724e-01   1.3039e-01
   3.1497e-01   9.8492e-02   2.6381e-01
   2.0000e-01   5.2000e-01   2.9000e-01
   9.8418e-02   2.7012e-01   4.5743e-02
   9.1215e-02   1.0991e-02   9.4744e-02
   2.0000e-01   2.0000e-01   2.9000e-01
   1.0948e-01   3.3208e-01   1.8379e-01
   1.7566e-01   3.0692e-03   1.9628e-01
   2.1320e-01   1.3943e-01   1.5169e-01
   1.3000e-01   4.5000e-01   2.0000e-01

meaning, for example, the square of the distance between the 8th target point (== 8th row) and 3rd known point (== 3rd column) is 1.9628e-01. All that remains is to take the square root of every term.

Setting up the cost function

Now that we know how far apart each target point is from each known point, we just need to find the closest ones then sum their distances. Taking the minumum over each column, then summing gives us the cost function:

Python:

In : dist  = np.sqrt( ( target[:,0][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,0] )**2 +
   :                  ( target[:,1][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,1] )**2 )

In : np.min(dist, axis=0)
Out: array([0.30201901, 0.05540018, 0.21387643])

In : np.min(dist, axis=0).sum()
Out: 0.5712956164197415

MATLAB:

>> dist = sqrt( ( target(:,1) - known(:,1)' ).^2 + ...
                ( target(:,2) - known(:,2)' ).^2 );

>> min(dist)

    0.3020    0.0554    0.2139

>> sum(min(dist))

    0.5713

Optimizers need to call the function that’s to be minimized so we’ll rewrite the expressions above as functions called cost()2. We merely need to wrap the distance summation computation into a function:

Python:

import numpy as np
def cost(known, target):
    dist = np.sqrt( ( target[:,0][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,0] )**2 + 
                    ( target[:,1][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,1] )**2 )
    return np.min(dist, axis=0).sum()

MATLAB:

function [sum_dist] = cost(known, target)
    dist = sqrt( ( target(:,1) - known(:,1)' ).^2 + ...
                 ( target(:,2) - known(:,2)' ).^2 );
    sum_dist = sum(min(dist));
end

Visualizing the cost function

It’s instructive to see how the cost function varies across the search domain but this is only practical if the cost function has two or fewer independent variables and is inexpensive to compute. The cost function chosen for this post was obviously tailored to meet these criteria. I’d have liked to allow the target shape to be oriented at an arbitrary angle but then the offset would consist of three independent variables, x, y, and phi, and the cost function would need to be rendered as a 3D cube. That’s possible but requires an advanced visualization tool that supports cutting planes.

Here are functions to display a contour plot of the cost function across the search domain. Both functions descretize the search domain of -1 <= x <= 1 and -1 <= y <= 1 into an evenly spaced grid of 100 x 100 points then compute the cost function at each of these. Afterwards we’ll view the 100 x 100 cost terms on a contour plot.

Python:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
def plot_cost(known, target): # {{{
    N = 100
    [offset_x, offset_y] = np.meshgrid(np.linspace(-1,1,N),np.linspace(-1,1,N))
    C = np.zeros_like(offset_x) # cost at each offset point
    offset_target = np.zeros_like(target)
    for r in range(N):
        for c in range(N):
            offset = np.array([offset_x[r,c], offset_y[r,c]])
            offset_target = target + offset
            C[r,c] = cost(known, offset_target)
    fig, ax = plt.subplots()
    plt.contourf(offset_x, offset_y, C, levels=20)
    ax.set_aspect('equal')
    ax.set_xlim([-1,1.0])
    ax.set_xlabel('X offset')
    ax.set_ylabel('Y offset')
    ax.set_ylim([-1,1.0])
    plt.colorbar()
    plt.show()

MATLAB:

function plot_cost(known, target)
    N = 100;
    [offset_x, offset_y] = meshgrid(linspace(-1,1,N), linspace(-1,1,N));
    C = zeros(size(offset_x)); % cost at each offset point
    offset_target = zeros(size(target));
    for r = 1:N
        for c = 1:N
            offset = [offset_x(r,c), offset_y(r,c)];
            offset_target = target + offset;
            C(r,c) = cost(known, offset_target);
        end
    end
    levels = 20;
    contourf(offset_x, offset_y, C, levels)
    colorbar()
end

For our first plot let’s start with the easy case with just three target points which are offset from three known points:

Python:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
known = np.array([[0.6, 0.5], [0.6, 0.9], [0.7,0.5]])
truth_offset = np.array([-0.4, -0.2])
target = known + truth_offset;
plot_cost(known, target)

Cost function for three targets, Python.

Cost function for three targets, Python.

There’s a fairly distinct minimum around (0.4, 0.2). This is the amount we’d need to add to our target points to make them overlay the known points. Looking at it from the other direction, (-0.4, -0.2) was added to our known points to produce the targets. The cost function is fairly smooth with a clear minimum and should not present much challenge for gradient-based optimizers such as MATLAB’s fminsearch().

Now let’s plot the harder case of 10 target points—3 from shifting the known points, plus the 7 noise points:

Python:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
known = np.array([[0.6, 0.5], [0.6, 0.9], [0.7,0.5]])
target = np.array([[ 8.147236863931789e-01, 1.576130816775483e-01],
                   [ 9.057919370756192e-01, 9.705927817606157e-01],
                   [ 2.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ],
                   [ 9.133758561390194e-01, 4.853756487228412e-01],
                   [ 6.323592462254095e-01, 8.002804688888001e-01],
                   [ 2.0e-01              , 7.0e-01              ],
                   [ 2.784982188670484e-01, 4.217612826262750e-01],
                   [ 5.468815192049838e-01, 9.157355251890671e-01],
                   [ 9.575068354342976e-01, 7.922073295595544e-01],
                   [ 3.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ]])
plot_cost(known, target)

Cost function for ten targets, Python.

Cost function for ten targets, Python.

This time the global minimum is hard to identify. If we add even more noise points the plot will have more local minima and the optimization problem becomes even more challenging.

For completeness here are the MATLAB versions of the two plots:

MATLAB:

known = [0.6 0.5; 0.6 0.9; 0.7 0.5];
truth_offset = [-.4 -.2];
target3 = known + truth_offset;
plot_cost(known, target3)

Cost function for three targets, MATLAB.

Cost function for three targets, MATLAB.

MATLAB:

known = [0.6 0.5; 0.6 0.9; 0.7 0.5];
target = [ 8.147236863931789e-01, 1.576130816775483e-01;
           9.057919370756192e-01, 9.705927817606157e-01;
           2.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ;
           9.133758561390194e-01, 4.853756487228412e-01;
           6.323592462254095e-01, 8.002804688888001e-01;
           2.0e-01              , 7.0e-01              ;
           2.784982188670484e-01, 4.217612826262750e-01;
           5.468815192049838e-01, 9.157355251890671e-01;
           9.575068354342976e-01, 7.922073295595544e-01;
           3.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ];
plot_cost(known, target)

Cost function for ten targets, MATLAB.

Cost function for ten targets, MATLAB.

Finding the global minimum

We’re ready to put our optimizers to work. Before we jump to differential evolution, let’s try the fminsearch() function in MATLAB, first with the three target points:

MATLAB:

>> start_offset = [0 0];
>> fn = @(offset) cost(known, target3 + offset);
>> fminsearch(fn, start_offset)

    0.4000    0.2000

Looks good. Now the much harder case with the ten target points:

MATLAB:

>> start_offset = [0 0];
>> fn = @(offset) cost(known, target + offset);
>> fminsearch(fn, start_offset)

    0.0285   -0.2725

Not so good—(0.0285, -0.2725) is one of the several local minima. The Optimization Toolbox has functions to find the global minimum but if that’s not available, a good alternative is a differential evolution based solver from the FileExchange or from scipy.optimize.

Python solution with scipy.optimize.differential_evolution()

SciPy’s differential_evolution() calling arguments are similar to MATLAB’s fminsearch() but include an additional array of bounds on the independent variables (the x and y values of the offset). The first argument is a handle to a function, we’ll call it fn() to match the @fn() anonymous function used in MATLAB since it serves the same purpose—in both Python and MATLAB, fn calls our cost function with trial values for independent variables plus other required arguments, namely the known and target arrays, passed through with the keyword argument args. Here’s what that looks like:

Python:

def fn(independent_vars, *data):
    x_offset, y_offset = independent_vars
    known, target = data
    offset_target = target + np.array([x_offset, y_offset])
    return cost(known, offset_target)

bounds=([-1.0, 1.0], [ -1.0, 1.0])

result = differential_evolution(fn, bounds, args=(known, target))

Solutions for the three and ten point target cases return the correct global minimum for both cases:

Python:

In : differential_evolution(fn, bounds, args=(known, target3))
Out:
     fun: 4.052626611931048e-16
 message: 'Optimization terminated successfully.'
    nfev: 3033
     nit: 98
 success: True
       x: array([0.4, 0.2])

In : differential_evolution(fn, bounds, args=(known, target))
Out:
     fun: 3.3664710476199897e-16
 message: 'Optimization terminated successfully.'
    nfev: 2913
     nit: 94
 success: True
       x: array([0.4, 0.2])

Differential evolution involves random guesses for the independent variables so the number of function evaluations (nfev in the solution structure) varies between runs. Oddly, in this instance, the easier case of three target points required more evaluations than the harder case of ten points. If the cost function is expensive—for example a structural analysis run using Ansys or NASTRAN to find the maximum stress in a finite element model—you may want to modify the differential_evolution() optional parameters to find a suitable solution with fewer evaluations, or to run on multiple processors.

Individual elements of the returned structure are accessed through dot notation, for example,

Python:

In : result = differential_evolution(fn, bounds, args=(known, target3))
In : result.nfev
Out: 3213

In : result.x
Out: array([0.4, 0.2])

The complete Python program with all code above is optim_w_DE.py.

MATLAB solution with differential_evolution() from the FileExchange

Markus Buehren posted a thorough implementation of differential evolution entirely in MATLAB on the FileExchange. I didn’t spend enough time with it to learn how to pass arbitrary inputs to the cost function so the implementation below embeds the known and target arrays directly in cost().

I expanded the zip file to the directory /home/al/matlab/DE on my computer. To use Markus’s solver this directory must be in the MATLAB search path so the script below begins with an addpath() to this location.

MATLAB: optim_w_fileexchange.m

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% file: optim_w_fileexchange.m
addpath('/home/al/matlab/DE'); % location of unzipped files
optimInfo.title = 'Shape alignment';
tolerance = 0.0001;
paramDefCell = {
	'parameter1', [-1 1], tolerance  % offset_x
	'parameter2', [-1 1], tolerance  % offset_y
};
objFctParams.offset_x = 0;
objFctParams.offset_y = 0;
objFctHandle = @cost;
DEParams = getdefaultparams;
DEParams.maxiter = 50;
objFctSettings = 100;
emailParams = [];  % no email
[bestmem, bestval, bestFctParams, nrOfIterations, resultFileName] = ...
    differentialevolution(DEParams, paramDefCell, objFctHandle,     ...
    objFctSettings, objFctParams, emailParams, optimInfo);

function [sum_dist] = cost(scale, params)
    offset_x = params.parameter1(1);
    offset_y = params.parameter2(1);
    known = [0.6 0.5; 0.6 0.9; 0.7 0.5];
    target = [ 8.147236863931789e-01, 1.576130816775483e-01;
               9.057919370756192e-01, 9.705927817606157e-01;
               2.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ;
               9.133758561390194e-01, 4.853756487228412e-01;
               6.323592462254095e-01, 8.002804688888001e-01;
               2.0e-01              , 7.0e-01              ;
               2.784982188670484e-01, 4.217612826262750e-01;
               5.468815192049838e-01, 9.157355251890671e-01;
               9.575068354342976e-01, 7.922073295595544e-01;
               3.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ];
    offset_target = target + [offset_x, offset_y];
    dist = sqrt( ( offset_target(:,1) - known(:,1)' ).^2 + ...
                 ( offset_target(:,2) - known(:,2)' ).^2 );
    sum_dist = scale*sum(min(dist));
end

Running this script yields the correct solution

MATLAB:

                                   :
'Shape alignment' finished after given maximum number of 50 iterations.
 
Elapsed time:                   0.37 seconds
Number of function evaluations: 961
Mean function evaluation time:  0.0003928 seconds

Final result after 50 iteration(s).
Best member:
parameter1 = 0.4; 
parameter2 = 0.2; 
Evaluation value: 5.10014e-14

Results are saved in file cost_result_01.mat.

and additionally brings up plots and writes .mat files to the working directory.

MATLAB solution with scipy.optimize.differential_evolution()

If the FileExchange implementation of differential evolution isn’t an option for you, use the implementation in SciPy instead. Although scipy.optimize.differential_evolution() can’t be called from MATLAB directly—it requires a Python evaluation function, the fn() mentioned above—the call can be put in a Python wrapper and the wrapper called from MATLAB. This means, however, the cost function must also be implemented in Python (or I suppose could use the MATLAB engine in Python to call the MATLAB cost function from Python although I’ve never attempted this). Here’s what the wrapper looks like for our problem:

Python: diffev_bridge.py

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# file: diffev_bridge.py
import numpy as np
from scipy.optimize import differential_evolution

def cost(known, target):
    dist = np.sqrt( ( target[:,0][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,0] )**2 +
                    ( target[:,1][:,np.newaxis] - known[:,1] )**2 )
    return np.min(dist, axis=0).sum()

def fn(independent_vars, *data):
    x_offset, y_offset = independent_vars
    known, target = data
    offset_target = target + np.array([x_offset, y_offset])
    return cost(known, offset_target)

def call_DE(bounds, known, target):
    args = (known, target)
    DE_result = differential_evolution(fn, bounds, args=args)
    soln = { 'success' : DE_result.success,
             'message' : DE_result.message,
             'x' : DE_result.x,
             'nfev' : DE_result.nfev,
           }
    return soln

The MATLAB invocation to this wrapper is

MATLAB (>= 2020b): optim_w_python.m

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np = py.importlib.import_module('numpy');
diffev = py.importlib.import_module('diffev_bridge');

known = [0.6 0.5; 0.6 0.9; 0.7 0.5];
offset = [-.4 -.2];
target = [ 8.147236863931789e-01, 1.576130816775483e-01;
           9.057919370756192e-01, 9.705927817606157e-01;
           2.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ;
           9.133758561390194e-01, 4.853756487228412e-01;
           6.323592462254095e-01, 8.002804688888001e-01;
           2.0e-01              , 7.0e-01              ;
           2.784982188670484e-01, 4.217612826262750e-01;
           5.468815192049838e-01, 9.157355251890671e-01;
           9.575068354342976e-01, 7.922073295595544e-01;
           3.0e-01              , 3.0e-01              ];
target3 = known + offset;
bounds = py.tuple({[-1, 1], [-1, 1]});
result = diffev.call_DE(bounds, np.array(known), np.array(target3))
result = diffev.call_DE(bounds, np.array(known), np.array(target))

running it returns a solution dictionary for the three point and ten point cases:

MATLAB (>= 2020b):

>> optim_w_python
result = 
  Python dict with no properties.
    {'success': True, 
     'message': 'Optimization terminated successfully.', 
     'x': array([0.4, 0.2]), 
     'nfev': 3153}

result = 
  Python dict with no properties.
    {'success': True, 
     'message': 'Optimization terminated successfully.', 
     'x': array([0.4, 0.2]), 
     'nfev': 3033}

Individual items from the solution dictionary can be accessed using the dictionary .get() method. Alternatively, convert the dictionary to a native MATLAB struct with py2mat.m:

MATLAB (>= 2020b):

>> offset = double(result.get('x'))

    0.4000    0.2000

>> soln = py2mat(result)

  struct with fields:

    success: 1
    message: "Optimization terminated successfully."
          x: [0.4000 0.2000]
       nfev: 2943

>> soln.x

    0.4000    0.2000

Avoiding MATLAB crashes on Linux

MATLAB 2020b on Ubuntu 20.04 may crash at diffev.call_DE() when running optim_w_python.m. The solution is to start MATLAB from a suitably-configured Python environment and to include these lines in startup.m:

MATLAB (>= 2020b):

py.sys.setdlopenflags(int32(10));
os = py.importlib.import_module('os');
os.environ.update(pyargs('KMP_DUPLICATE_LIB_OK','TRUE'))

Additional Python optimization packages

Optimization is a massive topic that spans problem classes that differential evolution cannot solve. See Keivan Tafakkori’s list of optimization packages for Python for an overview of additional solvers.

Join me again on September 17, 2022 to see how to solve simultaneous nonlinear equations in MATLAB using SciPy’s scipy.optimize.root() function.


  1. Storn, R.; Price, K. (1997). “Differential evolution - a simple and efficient heuristic for global optimization over continuous spaces”. Journal of Global Optimization. 11 (4): 341–359. doi:10.1023/A:1008202821328. S2CID 5297867. ↩︎

  2. If you are using the Audio Toolbox, Communications Toolbox, or DSP System Toolbox you’ll want to call the function something other than cost() since these toolboxes also have a cost() function. ↩︎