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Example 1: (from class) Maximize: P = 3x + 4y subject to:

x+y ≤4

2x + y ≤ 5

x ≥ 0, y ≥ 0

Our first step is to classify the problem. Clearly, we are going to maximize our objec-

tive function, all are variables are nonnegative, and our constraints are written with

our variable combinations less than or equal to a constant. So this is a standard max-

imization problem and we know how to use the simplex method to solve it.

We need to write our initial simplex tableau. Since we have two constraints, we need

to introduce the two slack variables u and v. This gives us the equalities

x+y+u=4

2x + y = 5

We rewrite our objective function as −3x−4y +P = 0 and from here obtain the system

of equations:

x+y+u=4

2x + y = 5

−3x − 4y + P = 0

x y u v P

1 1 1 0 0 4

2 1 0 1 0 5

-3 -4 0 0 1 0

To find the column, locate the most negative entry to the left of the vertical line (here

this is −4). To find the pivot row, divide each entry in the constant column by the

entry in the corresponding in the pivot column. In this case, we’ll get 41 as the ratio

for the first row and 51 for the ratio in the second row. The pivot row is the row

corresponding to the smallest ratio, in this case 4. So our pivot element is the in the

second column, first row, hence is 1.

Now we perform the following row operations to get convert the pivot column to a unit

column:

R2 → R2 − R1

R3 → R3 + 4R1

x y u v P

1 1 1 0 0 4

1 0 -1 1 0 1

1 0 4 0 1 16

Notice that all of the entries to the left of the vertical line in the last row are non-

negative. We must stop here!

To read off the solution from the table, first find the unit columns in the table. The

variables above the unit columns are assigned the value in the constant column in the

row where the 1 is in the unit column. Every variable above a non-unit column is set

to 0. So here y = 4, v = 1, P = 16, x = 0, and u = 0.

Thus, our maximum occurs when x = 0, y = 4 and the maximum value is 16.

Example 2 (from class) Minimize: C = −2x + y subject to:

x + 2y ≤ 6

3x + 2y ≤ 12

x ≥ 0, y ≥ 0

Classify the problem. Clearly, this is a minimization problem...but it’s not the standard

problem since our constraints involve linear expressions with the variables less than or

equal to a constant. We use the trick that minimizing this function C is the same as

maximizing the function P = −C. This problem is then equivalent to:

Maximize P = 2x − y subject to:

x + 2y ≤ 6

3x + 2y ≤ 12

x ≥ 0, y ≥ 0

Introducing the slack variable u and v, our initial simplex tableau is:

x y u v P

1 2 1 0 0 6

3 2 0 1 0 12

-2 1 0 0 1 0

Our pivot element is the 3 in row 2 column 1. We do the following sequence of row

operations to convert this column into a unit column:

1

R2 → R1

3

R1 → R1 − R2

R3 → R3 + 2R2

x y u v P

0 4 /3 1 -1 /3 0 2

1 2 /3 0 1 /3 0 4

0 5 /3 0 1 /3 1 8

Since the last row has all positive entries to the left of the vertical line, we are done.

Our maximum of P occurs at x = 4, y = 0 and the maximum value of P is 8. Since

P = −C our minimum for C is −8.

Thus C = −8 is the minimum for C and C is minimized at (4, 0).

Example 3 (from class) Minimize C = 2x + 5y subject to

x + 2y ≥ 4

3x + 2y ≥ 3

x ≥ 0, y ≥ 0

This problem is a standard minimization problem. We call this problem the primal

problem. To solve it, we first write the tableau

x y

1 2 4

3 2 3

2 5

Now take this tableau and interchange its columns and rows, labeling the first two

columns u, v:

u v

1 3 2

2 2 5

4 3

From here we get the tableau of the dual problem by negating the last row of this table

and then inserting unit columns and x, y, and P between the v the constant column:

u v x y P

1 3 1 0 0 2

2 2 0 1 0 5

-4 -3 0 0 1 0

Now we use the simplex algorithm to get a solution to the dual problem. The pivot

element is the 1 in the first column, first row. We do the following sequence of row

operations to reduce this column to a unit column:

R2 → R2 − 2R1

R3 → R3 + 4R1

u v x y P

1 3 1 0 0 2

0 -4 -2 1 0 1

0 9 4 0 1 8

The solution for the primal problem appears underneath the slack variables (in this

case x and y) in the last row of of the final tableau. The maximum of the dual problem

is the same as the minimum for the primal problem so the minimum for C is 8 and

this value occurs at x = 4, y = 0. Note that the dual problem has a maximum at u = 2

and v = 0.

Example 4: Suppose when I solve a simplex problem I find that my slack variable u takes on a

positive value. Did I do something wrong? Explain.

Answer. No. Basically, when one of the slack variables takes on a positive value

it means that in maximizing our objective function we stayed ”below” one of our

constraints. For example, if u is the slack variable corresponding to a constraint on

labor hours used and the value of u is 12 in our optimal solution, it means we have 12

remaining labor hours available.

Example 5: What do I conclude if the last row to the left of the vertical line in my simplex tableau

contains all zeros?

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