You are on page 1of 67

Nonlinear Optimization:

Duality
Jean-Philippe Vert
Ecole des Mines de Paris
Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.1/67
Outline
The Lagrange dual function
Weak and strong duality
Geometric interpretation
Optimality conditions
Perturbation and sensitivity analysis

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.2/67
The Lagrange dual function

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.3/67
Setting
We consider an equality and inequality constrained
optimization problem:

minimize f (x)
subject to hi (x) = 0 , i = 1, . . . , m ,
gj (x) 0 , j = 1, . . . , r ,

We denote by f the optimal value of the decision function

under the constraints, i.e., f = f (x ) if the minimum is
reached at a global minimum x .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.4/67
Lagrange dual function
Remember the Lagrangian of this problem is the
function L : Rn Rm Rr R defined by:
m
X r
X
L (x, , ) = f (x) + i hi (x) + j gj (x) .
i=1 j=1

We define the Lagrange dual function g : Rm Rr R

as:
q(, ) = infn L (x, , )
xR

Xm r
X
= infn f (x) + i hi (x) + j gj (x) .
xR
i=1 j=1

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.5/67
Properties of the dual function
When L in unbounded below in x, the dual function q(, )
takes on the value . It has two important properties:
1. q is concave in (, ), even if the original problem is not
convex.
2. The dual function yields lower bounds on the optimal
value f of the original problem when is nonnegative:

q(, ) f , Rm , Rr , 0 .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.6/67
Proof
1. For each x, the function (, ) 7 L(x, , ) is linear, and
therefore both convex and concave in (, ). The
pointwise minimum of concave functions is concave,
therefore q is concave.
2. Let x be any feasible point, i.e., h(
x) = 0 and g(
x) 0.
Then we have, for any and 0:
m
X r
X
i hi (
x) + i hi (
x) 0 ,
i=1 i=1

m
X r
X
= L(
x, , ) = f (
x)+ i hi (
x)+ i hi (
x) f (
x) ,
i=1 i=1

= q(, ) = inf L(x, , ) L(

x, , ) f (
x) ,
x. 
x
Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.7/67
Proof complement
We used the fact that the poinwise maximum (resp. minimum) of convex
(resp. concave) functions is itself convex (concave).
To prove this, suppose that for each y A the function f (x, y) is convex in
x, and let the function:
g(x) = sup f (x, y) .
yA

Then the domain of g is convex as an intersection of convex domains, and

for any [0, 1] and x1 , x2 in the domain of g:

yA

yA

sup (f (x1 , y)) + sup ((1 )f (x2 , y))

yA yA

= g(x1 ) + (1 )g(x2 ) . 

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.8/67
Illustration

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.9/67
Example 1
Least-squares solution of linear equations:

minimize x> x
subject to Ax = b ,

where A Rpn . There are p equality constraints, the

Lagrangian with domain Rn Rp is:

To minimize L over x for fixed, we set the gradient equal

to zero:
> 1 >
x L(x, ) = 2x + A = 0 = x= A .
2
Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.10/67
Example 1 (cont.)
Plug it in L to obtain the dual function:
 
1 > 1 >
q() = L A , = AA> b>
2 4

q is a concave function of , and the following lower bound

holds:
1 >
f AA> b> , Rp .

4

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.11/67
Example 2
Standard form LP:
minimize c> x
subject to Ax = b ,
x0.

where A Rpn . There are p equality and n inequality

constraints, the Lagrangian with domain Rn Rp Rn is:

L(x, , ) = c> x + > (Ax b) > x

 >
= > b + c + A> x .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.12/67
Example 2 (cont.)
L is linear in x, and its minimum can only be 0 or :
(
> b if A> + c = 0
g(, ) = infn L(x, , ) =
xR otherwise.

g is linear on an affine subspace and therefore concave.

The lower bound is non-trivial when and satisfy 0
and A> + c = 0, giving the following bound:

f > b if A> + c 0 .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.13/67
Example 3
Inequality form LP:

minimize c> x
subject to Ax b ,

where A Rpn . There are p inequality constraints, the

Lagrangian with domain Rn Rp is:

L(x, ) = c> x + > (Ax b)

 >
= > b + A> + c x .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.14/67
Example 3 (cont.)
L is linear in x, and its minimum can only be 0 or :
(
> b if A> + c = 0
g(, ) = infn L(x, , ) =
xR otherwise.

g is linear on an affine subspace and therefore concave.

The lower bound is non-trivial when satisfies 0 and
A> + c = 0, giving the following bound:

f > b if A> + c = 0 and 0 .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.15/67
Example 4
Two-way partitioning:

minimize x> W x
subject to x2i = 1 , i = 1, . . . , n .

This is a nonconvex problem, the feasible set contains 2n

discrete points (xi = 1).
Interpretation : partition (1, . . . , n) in two sets, Wij is the cost
of assigning i, j to the same set, Wij the cost of assigning
them to different sets. Lagrangian with domain Rn Rn :
n
X
>
i x2i

L(x, ) = x W x + 1
i=1
= x> (W + diag()) x 1> .
Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.16/67
Example 4 (cont.)
For M symmetric, the minimum of x> M x is 0 if all
eigenvalues of M are nonnegative, otherwise. We
therefore get the following dual function:
(
1> if W + diag()  0 ,
q() =
otherwise.

The lower bound is non-trivial for such that

W + diag()  0. This holds in particular for = min (W ),
resulting in:
f 1> = nmin (W ) .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.17/67
Weak and strong duality

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.18/67
Dual problem
For the (primal) problem:

minimize f (x)
subject to h(x) = 0 , g(x) 0 ,

maximize q(, )
subject to 0,

where q is the (concave) Lagrange dual function and and

are the Lagrange multipliers associated to the constraints
h(x) = 0 and g(x) 0.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.19/67
Weak duality
Let d the optimal value of the Lagrange dual problem.
Each q(, ) is an lower bound for f and by definition d is
the best lower bound that is obtained. The following weak
duality inequality therefore always hold:

d f .

This inequality holds when d or f are infinite. The differ-

ence d f is called the optimal duality gap of the original
problem.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.20/67
Application of weak duality
For any optimization problem, we always have:
the dual problem is a convex optimization problem
(=easy to solve)
weak duality holds.
Hence solving the dual problem can provide useful lower
bounds for the original problem, no matter how difficult it is.
For example, solving the following SDP problem (using
classical optimization toolbox) provides a non-trivial lower
bound for the optimal two-way partitioning problem:

minimize 1>
subject to W + diag()  0

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.21/67
Strong duality
We say that strong duality holds if the optimal duality gap is
zero, i.e.:
d = f .

If strong duality holds, then the best lower bound that

can be obtained from the Lagrange dual function is tight
Strong duality does not hold for general nonlinear
problems.
It usually holds for convex problems.
Conditions that ensure strong duality for convex
problems are called constraint qualification.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.22/67
Slaters constraint qualification
Strong duality holds for a convex problem:

minimize f (x)
subject to gj (x) 0 , j = 1, . . . , r ,
Ax = b ,

if it is strictly feasible, i.e., there exists at least one feasible

point that satisfies:

gj (x) < 0 , j = 1, . . . , r , Ax = b .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.23/67
Remarks
Slaters conditions also ensure that the maximum d (if
> ) is attained, i.e., there exists a point ( , ) with

q ( , ) = d = f

They can be sharpened. For example, strict feasibility is

not required for affine constraints.
There exist many other types of constraint qualifications

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.24/67
Example 1
Least-squares solution of linear equations:

minimize x> x
subject to Ax = b ,

where A Rpn . The dual problem is:

1 >
maximize AA> b> .
4

Slaters conditions holds if the primal is feasible, i.e.,

b Im(A). In that case strong duality holds.
In fact strong duality also holds if f = +: there exists z with
A> z = 0 and b> z 6= 0, so the dual is unbounded above and
d = + = f .
Nonlinear optimization c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.25/67
Example 2
Inequality form LP:

minimize c> x
subject to Ax b ,

Remember the dual function:

(
> b if A> + c = 0
g(, ) = infn L(x, , ) =
xR otherwise.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.26/67
Example 2 (cont.)
The dual problem is therefore equivalent to the following
standard form LP:
minimize b>
subject to A> + c = 0, 0.

From the weaker form of Slaters conditions, strong

duality holds for any LP provided the primal problem is
feasible.
In fact, f = d except when both the primal LP and the
dual LP are infeasible.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.27/67
Example 3

minimize x> P x
subject to Ax b ,

where we assume P  0. There are p inequality constraints,

the Lagrangian is:

This is a strictly convex function of x minimized for

1 1 >
x () = P A .
2

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.28/67
Example 3
The dual function is therefore
1 >
q() = AP 1 A> b> .
4
and the dual problem:
1 >
maximize AP 1 A> b>
4
subject to 0.

By the weak form of Slaters conditions, strong duality

holds if the primal problem is feasible: f = d .
In fact, strong duality always holds, even if the primal is
not feasible (in which case f = d = +), cf LP case.
Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.29/67
Example 4
The following QCQP problem is not convex if A symmetric but not positive
semidefinite:

minimize x> Ax + 2b> x

subject to x> x 1 .

Its dual problem is the following SDP (left as exercice):

maximize t

A + I b
subject to 0.
b> t

In fact, strong duality holds in this case (more generally for quadratic ob-

holds, see Annex B.1 in B&V).

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.30/67
Geometric interpretation

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.31/67
Setting
We consider the simple problem

minimize f (x)
subject to g(x) 0 ,

where f, g : Rn R. We will give a geometric interpretation

of the weak and strong duality.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.32/67

Optimal value f
We consider the subset of R2 defined by:

S = {(g(x), f (x) | x Rn )} .

The optimal value f is determined by:

f = inf {t | (u, t) S, u 0} .

u
Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.33/67
Dual function q()
The dual function for 0 is:
q() = infn {f (x) + g(x)}
xR
= inf {u + t} .
(u,t)S

S
u+t= cte

u+t= q() q()

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.34/67

Dual optimal d

d = sup q()
0
= sup inf {u + t} .
0 (u,t)S

f
d

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.35/67
Weak duality

d f
t

f
d

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.36/67
Strong duality
For convex problems with strictly feasible points:

d = f
t t

S S

f
d
f
d
u u

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.37/67

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.38/67
Setting
We consider a general optimization problem with inequality
constraints:
minimize f (x)
subject to gj (x) 0 , j = 1, . . . , r .

Its Lagrangian is
r
X
L(x, ) = f (x) + j gj (x) .
j=1

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.39/67

Inf-sup form of f
We note that, for any x Rn :

X r
sup L(x, ) = sup f (x) + j gj (x)
0 0 j=1

(
f (x) if gj (x) 0 , j = 1, . . . , r ,
=
+ otherwise.

Therefore:
f = infn sup L(x, ) .
xR 0

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.40/67
Duality
By definition we also have

0 xR

0 xR xR 0

sup infn L(x, ) = infn sup L(x, ) .

0 xR xR 0

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.41/67
Max-min inequality
In fact the weak duality does not depend on any property of
L, it is just an instance of the general max-min inequality
that states that

zZ wW wW zZ

for any f : Rn Rm R, W Rn and Z Rm . When

equality holds, i.e.,

zZ wW wW zZ

we say that f satisfies the strong max-min property. This

holds only in special cases.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.42/67
Proof of Max-min inequality
For any (w0 , z0 ) W Z we have by definition of the infimum in w:

inf f (w, z0 ) f (w0 , z0 ) .

wW

For w0 fixed, this holds for any choice of z0 so we can take the supremum
in z0 on both sides to obtain:

zZ wW zZ

The left-hand side is a constant, and the right-hand side is a function of

w0 . The inequality is valid for any w0 , so we can take the infimum to obtain
the result:
sup inf f (w, z) inf sup f (w, z) .
zZ wW wW zZ

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.43/67
A pair (w , z ) W Z is called a saddle-point for f if

f (w , z) f (w , z ) f (w, z ) , w W , z Z .

because:

zZ wW wW

zZ wW zZ

Hence if strong duality holds, (x , ) form a saddle-point of

the Lagrangian. Conversily, if the Lagrangian has a saddle-
point then strong duality holds.
Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.44/67
Game interpretation
Consider a game with two players:
1. Player 1 chooses w W ;
2. then Player 2 chooses z Z ;
3. then Player 1 pays f (w, z) to Player 2.
Player 1 wants to minimize f , while Player 2 wants to
maximize it. If Player 1 chooses w, then Player 2 will
choose z Z to obtain the maximum payoff supzZ f (w, z).
Knowing this, Player must chose w to make this payoff
minimum, equal to:

inf sup f (w, z) .

wW zZ

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.45/67
Game interpretation (cont.)
If Player 2 plays first, following a similar argument, the
payoff will be:
sup inf f (w, z) .
zZ wW

The general max-min inequality states that it is better for a

player to know his or her opponents choice before choos-
ing. The optimal duality gap is the advantage afforded to
the player who plays second. If there is a saddle-point, then
there is no advantage to the players of knowing their oppo-
nents choice.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.46/67
Optimality conditions

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.47/67
Setting
We consider an equality and inequality constrained
optimization problem:

minimize f (x)
subject to hi (x) = 0 , i = 1, . . . , m ,
gj (x) 0 , j = 1, . . . , r ,

making no assumption of f , g and h.

We will revisit the optimality conditions at the light of duality.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.48/67
Dual optimal pairs
Suppose that strong duality holds, x is primal optimal,
( , ) is dual optimal. Then we have:

f (x ) = q ( , )

m
X r
X
= infn f (x) + i hi (x) + j gj (x)
xR
i=1 j=1
m
X r
X
f (x ) + i hi (x ) + j gj (x )
i=1 j=1
f (x )

Hence both inequalities are in fact equalities.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.49/67
Complimentary slackness
The first equality shows that:

L (x , , ) = infn L (x, , ) ,
xR

showing that x minimizes the Lagrangian at ( , ). The

second equality shows that:

j gj (x ) = 0 , j = 1, . . . , r .

This property is called complementary slackness:

the ith optimal Lagrange multiplier is zero unless the ith con-
straint is active at the optimum.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.50/67
KKT conditions
If the functions f, g, h are differentiable and there is no
duality gap, then we have seen that x minimizes
L(x, , ), therefore:
m
X r
X
x L(x , , ) = f (x )+ i hi (x )+ j gi (x ) = 0 .
i=1 j=1

Combined with the complimentary slackness and feasibility

conditions, we recover the KKT optimality conditions that x
must fulfill. and now have the interpretation of dual
optimal.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.51/67
KKT conditions for convex problems
Suppose now that the problem is convex, i.e., f and g are
convex functions, h is affine, and let x and ( , ) satisfy
the KKT conditions:
hi (x ) = 0 i = 1, . . . , m
gj (x ) 0 j = 1, . . . , r
j 0 j = 1, . . . , r
j gj (x ) = 0 j = 1, . . . , r
m
X r
X
f (x ) + i hi (x ) + j gi (x ) = 0 ,
i=1 j=1

then x and ( , ) are primal and dual optimal, with zero

duality gap ( the KKT conditions are sufficient in this case).
Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.52/67
Proof
The first 2 conditions show that x is feasible. Because
0, the Lagrangian L(x, , ) is convex in x. Therefore,
the last equality shows that x minimized it, therefore:

q ( , ) = L (x , , )
m
X r
X
= f (x ) + i hi (x ) + j gj (x )
i=1 j=1
= f (x ) ,

showing that x and ( , ) have zero duality gap, and are

therefore primal and dual optimal.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.53/67
Summary
For any problem with differentiable objective and constraints:
If x and (, ) satisfy f (x) = q(, ) (which implies in particular
that x is optimal), then (x, , ) satisfy KKT.
For a convex problem the converse is true: x and (, ) satisfy
f (x) = q(, ) if and only if they satisfy KKT.
For a convex problem where Slaters condition holds, we know
that strong duality holds and that the dual optimal is attained,
so x is optimal if and only if there are (, ) that together with x
satisfy the KKT conditions.
We showed previously without convexity assumption, if x is
optimal and regular, then there exists (, ) that together with x
satisfy KKT. In that case, however, we do note have in general
f (x) = q(, ) (otherwise strong duality would

hold).
Nonlinear optimization c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.54/67
Example 1
1 >
minimize x P x + q>x + r
2
subject to Ax = b ,

where P  0. This problem is convex with no inequality

constraint, so the KKT conditions are necessary and
sufficient: ! ! !
P A> x q

=
A 0 b
This is a set of m + n equations with m + n variables.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.55/67
Example 2
Water-filling problem (assuming i 0):
n
X
minimize log (i + xi )
i=1
subject to x 0 , 1> x = 1 .

By the KKT conditions for this convex problem that satisfies

Slaters conditions, x is optimal iff x 0, 1> x = 1, and there
exists R and Rn s.t.
1
0, i xi = 0 , + i = .
xi + i

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.56/67
Example 2
This problem is easily solved directly:
If < 1/i : i = 0 and xi = 1/ i
If 1/i : i = 1/i and xi = 0
>
Pn
determine from 1 x = i=1 max {0, 1/ i } = 1
Interpretation:
n patches; level of patch i
is at height i
flood area with unit
amount of water
resulting level is 1/

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.57/67
Perturbation and sensitivity analysis

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.58/67
Unperturbed optimization problem
We consider the general problem:

minimize f (x)
subject to hi (x) = 0 , i = 1, . . . , m ,
gj (x) 0 , j = 1, . . . , r ,

with optimal value f , and its dual:

maximize q(, )
subject to 0.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.59/67
Perturbed problem and its dual
The perturbed problem is

minimize f (x)
subject to hi (x) = ui , i = 1, . . . , m ,
gj (x) vj , j = 1, . . . , r ,

maximize q(, ) u> v > .

subject to 0.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.60/67
Interpretation
When u = v = 0, this coincides with the original
problem: f (0, 0) = f .
When vj > 0, we have relaxed the j th inequality
constraint.
When vj < 0, we have tightened the j th inequality
constraing.
We are interested in informations about f (u, v) that can
be obtained from the solution of the unperturbed
problem and its dual.

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.61/67
A global sensitivity result
Now we assume that:
Strong duality holds, i.e., f = d .
The dual optimum is attained, i.e., there exist ( , )
such that d = q ( , ).
Applying weak duality to the perturbed problem we obtain

f (u, v) q ( , ) u> v >

= f u> v > .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.62/67
Global sensitivity interpretation

f (u, v) f u> v > .

If j is large: f increases greatly if we tighten the jth inequality constraint (vj < 0)
If j is small: f does not decrease much if we loosen the jth inequality constraint
(vj > 0)
If i is large and positive: f increases greatly if we decrease the ith equality
constraint (ui < 0)
If i is large and negative: f increases greatly if we increase the ith equality
constraint (ui > 0)
If i is small and positive: f does not decrease much if we increase the ith equality
constraint (ui > 0)
If i is small and negative: f does not decrease much if we decrease the ith equality
constraint (ui < 0)

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.63/67
Local sensitivity analysis
If (in addition) we assume that f (u, v) is differentiable at
(0, 0), then the following holds:

f (0, 0) f (0, 0)
i = , i = ,
ui vi
In that case, the Lagrange multipliers are exactly the local
sensitivities of the optimal value with respect to constraint
perturbation. Tightening the ith inequality constraint a small
amount vj < 0 yields an increase in f of approximately
j vj .

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.64/67
Proof
For i : from the global sensitivity result, it holds that:

f (tei , 0) f (0, 0)
t > 0 = i ,
t
and therefore
f (0, 0)
i .
ui
A similar analysis with t < 0 yields f (0, 0)/ui i , and
therefore:
f (0, 0)
= i .
ui
A similar proof holds for j . 

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.65/67
We assume the following problem is convex and Slaters
condition holds:
minimize f (x)
subject to gj (x) vj , j = 1, . . . , r ,

x Rn determines how a firm operates.

The objective f is the cost, i.e., f is the profit.
Each constraint gj (x) 0 is a limit on some resource
(labor, steel, warehouse space...)

Nonlinear optimization
c 2006 Jean-Philippe Vert, (Jean-Philippe.Vert@mines.org) p.66/67