Streamlining Portfolio Optimization: A Closer Look at the Accelerated SOCP Solver

Published 22/02/2024 By NAG

In the realm of portfolio management, efficiency is key. The recent update in Mark 29.3 of the NAG Library Optimization Modelling Suite sees an enhancement to the Second-Order Cone Programming (SOCP) solver. Let’s delve into the practical aspects of the enhancement and its impact on optimizing portfolio models. 

The Application of SOCP in Portfolio Optimization

Second-Order Cone Programming (SOCP) extends traditional linear programming, and is one of the main methods for solving convex quadratically constrained quadratic programming (QCQP) problems, proving to be a vital tool in quantitative finance. Its application in portfolio optimization is particularly noteworthy due to its flexibility in handling a diverse set of constraints. It can maximise Sharpe ratio, manage tracking error, adhere to leverage constraints, or address market impact costs. 

Enhanced Performance of the NAG SOCP Solver 

The latest SOCP solver update brings a substantial performance boost. In direct comparisons with the default solver in CVXPY on classic Markowitz models, the NAG SOCP solver delivers significant speed improvements all while maintaining a high level of accuracy. It also handles quadratic constraints that have large dense covariance matrices (of tracking error for instance) efficiently, and offers great robustness against CVXPY default solvers. View the benchmarking results.

Comparison of time on 10 portfolio optimization (quadratic programming) problems

Practical Implications 

The faster solve times the NAG SOCP solver offers brings tangible benefits to portfolio optimization. Practitioners dealing with classic optimization problems involving large covariance matrices, long-only constraints, and budget constraints will find this enhanced solver valuable. The focus on speed and accuracy directly translates into more efficient and precise portfolio models.

By harnessing the efficiency and scalability of an advanced SOCP solver, practitioners can speed decision-making, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. With real-time capabilities and improved flexibility, portfolio managers can swiftly adapt to changing market conditions, leading to superior performance and strategic advantage. 


In the domain of portfolio optimization, the enhanced NAG SOCP solver offers a pragmatic solution. By streamlining the optimization process, it empowers analysts to navigate complex constraints with speed and accuracy. As we seek to refine financial models, the NAG SOCP solver stands out as a reliable tool, offering practical enhancements that directly impact the efficiency of portfolio optimization. The solver is available for Python, C/C++, .NET & C#, Java, Fortran and Excel/VB, and is backed with first-line technical support, examples and documentation.