The mission of the ADMB Project is to promote application of ADMB solutions to problems in many disciplines, to provide training of new users, and to provide support for current users. AD Model Builder, ADMB-RE and AUTODIF were created by David Fournier of Otter Research Ltd beginning in the late 1980s. This software gained may users in the field of fisheries and has become the standard tool for developing statistical approaches to resource management. In the 1990s, it became clear that ADMB had the potential to find applications in fields outside of fisheries
The ADMB open source project began in 2007 when scientists from the University of Hawaii Pelagic Fisheries Research Program and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission created the non-profit ADMB Foundation with the goal of making ADMB free and open source software. The ADMB Foundation, in partnership with NOAA Fisheries and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), drafted a proposal to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to acquire the rights to the ADMB software suite. A generous grant from the Moore Foundation to NCEAS enabled an agreement with Otter Research Ltd to open the ADMB source.
The ADMB software suite is an environment for nonlinear statistical modeling enabling rapid model development, numerical stability, fast and efficient computation, and high accuracy parameter estimates. AD Model Builder is a high level language built around the AUTODIF Library, a C++ language extension which transparently implements reverse mode automatic differentiation. A closely related software package, ADMB-RE, implements random effects in nonlinear models.