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What is Operations Research (OR)?
- Operations Research (OR) can be described as a scientific approach to the solution of problems in the management of complex systems. In a rapidly changing environment an understanding is sought which will facilitate the choice and the implementation of more effective solutions which, typically, may involve complex interactions among people, materials and money. Most of the problems in OR are messy and complex, often entailing considerable uncertainty; specific techniques for dealing with these problems have been developed.
- Operations Research has been used intensively in business, industry and government. Many new analytical methods have evolved, such as: mathematical programming, simulation, game theory, queuing theory, network analysis, decision analysis, multi criteria analysis, etc., which have powerful application to practical problems with the appropriate logical structure.
- Operations Research in practice is a team effort, requiring close cooperation among the decision-makers, the skilled OR analyst and the people who will be affected by the management action.
- The graduate program in OR at Florida Tech offers students advanced quantitative methods, modeling, problem structuring, simulation and other analytical and statistical techniques to tackle the complex problems of OR by examining assumptions, facilitating an in -depth understanding and making decisions on practical action.
- The Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS) is an excellent resource for both job opportunities and current information on new applications for operations research. There are many problems that are addressed with operations research:
- Critical path analysis or project planning: identifying those processes in a complex project which affect the overall duration of the project.
- Floorplanning: designing the layout of equipment in a factory or components on a computer chip to reduce manufacturing time and reducing cost.
- Network optimization: for instance, setup of telecommunications networks to maintain quality of service during outages.
- Allocation problems
- Routing: i.e. determining the routes of busses so that as few busses are needed as possible.
- Supply chain management: i.e., managing the flow of raw materials and products based on uncertain demand for the finished products.
- Efficient messaging and customer response tactics
- Automation: automating or integrating robotic systems in human-driven operations
- Globalization: globalizing operations processes in order to take advantage of cheaper materials, labor, land, or other productivity inputs.
- Transportation: managing freight transportation and delivery systems.
- Scheduling: Personnel staffing, manufacturing steps, project tasks, etc.
- Blending of raw materials in oil refineries.
- Determining optimal prices, in many retail and B2B settings, within the disciplines of pricing science.
Operations Research is also used extensively in government where evidence-based policy is used.
Useful OR Resources
- What is Operations Research? - The Bureau of Labor Statistics http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos044.htm
- Operation Research - The Science of Better http://www.scienceofbetter.org/
- Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) http://www.informs.org/
- World-Wide-Web for Operations Research and Management Science (WORMS) http://www.worms.ms.unimelb.edu.au/
- An overview of optimization - Network Enabled Optimization System (NEOS) http://www.neos-guide.org/NEOS/index.php/NEOS_Wiki
- A question-answer site for on operations research and analytics - OR-Exchange http://www.or-exchange.com/
- International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS) TutORial Project http://www.ifors.ms.unimelb.edu.au/tutorial/
- An extensive collection of OR links - John Mitchell's optimization and OR website http://homepages.rpi.edu/~mitchj/sites_or.html
- FICO Xpress Optimization Suite - Student Edition http://optimization.fico.com/student-version-of-fico-xpress.html
- Decision Tree for Optimization Software http://plato.la.asu.edu/guide.html
- Excel Solver Tutorial for Optimization Users http://www.solver.com/tutorial.htm
- NEOS Server for Optimization http://neos-server.org/neos/