What is Operations Research?

You don’t have to be an OR expert to get involved, we welcome students at all levels!

Operations Research (O.R.), or operational research in the U.K, is a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. The terms management science and analytics are sometimes used as synonyms for operations research.

Employing techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, and mathematical optimization, operations research arrives at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems.

Operations research overlaps with other disciplines, notably industrial engineering and operations management. It is often concerned with determining a maximum (such as profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (such as loss, risk, or cost.)

Operations research encompasses a wide range of problem-solving techniques and methods applied in the pursuit of improved decision-making and efficiency, such as simulation, mathematical optimization, queuing theory, Markov decision processes, economic methods, data analysis, statistics, neural networks, expert systems, and decision analysis. Nearly all of these techniques involve the construction of mathematical models that attempt to describe the system.

Because of the computational and statistical nature of most of these fields, O.R. also has strong ties to computer science. Operations researchers faced with a new problem must determine which of these techniques are most appropriate given the nature of the system, the goals for improvement, and constraints on time and computing power.

Read more at INFORMS…