Operations research

discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions
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Operations research or Operational research (in British usage), is a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. It is often considered to be a sub-field of mathematics.

Different simulation methods.
CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author.

A - F

  • [The decisionmaking role of the firm has progressed from the neoclassical standpoint of profit maximization to sales maximization, utility maximization, and satisficing. From the Operation Research point of view] ...the ideal picture is that someone, presumable the firm that hires the operations researcher, hands him, on a silver platter, an objective function. By talking to the engineers, or by looking into a few scientific laws, he determines the policy alternatives available and also the model
  • The development (rather than the history) of operations research as a science consists of the development of its methods, concepts, and techniques. Operations research is neither a method nor a technique; it is or is becoming a science and as such is defined by a combination of the phenomena it studies.
    • Russell L. Ackoff (1956) "The development of operations research as a science" in; Operations Research Vol 4. pp.265-295.
  • We may recognize the subject of management cybernetics — which is seen as a rich provider of models for doing Operations research.
    • Anthony Stafford Beer (1966) Decision and control: the meaning of operational research and management cybernetics, p. 239.
  • The aim of management science is to display the best course of action in a given set of circumstances, and this must include all the circumstances.
  • The 19th and first half of the 20th century conceived of the world as chaos. Chaos was the oft-quoted blind play of atoms, which, in mechanistic and positivistic philosophy, appeared to represent ultimate reality, with life as an accidental product of physical processes, and mind as an epi-phenomenon. It was chaos when, in the current theory of evolution, the living world appeared as a product of chance, the outcome of random mutations and survival in the mill of natural selection. In the same sense, human personality, in the theories of behaviorism as well as of psychoanalysis, was considered a chance product of nature and nurture, of a mixture of genes and an accidental sequence of events from early childhood to maturity.
    Now we are looking for another basic outlook on the world -- the world as organization. Such a conception -- if it can be substantiated -- would indeed change the basic categories upon which scientific thought rests, and profoundly influence practical attitudes.
    This trend is marked by the emergence of a bundle of new disciplines such as cybernetics, information theory, general system theory, theories of games, of decisions, of queuing and others; in practical applications, systems analysis, systems engineering, operations research, etc. They are different in basic assumptions, mathematical techniques and aims, and they are often unsatisfactory and sometimes contradictory. They agree, however, in being concerned, in one way or another, with "systems," "wholes" or "organizations"; and in their totality, they herald a new approach.
  • Linear programming is viewed as a revolutionary development giving man the ability to state general objectives and to find, by means of the simplex method, optimal policy decisions for a broad class of practical decision problems of great complexity. In the real world, planning tends to be ad hoc because of the many special-interest groups with their multiple objectives.
    • George Dantzig (1983) "Reminiscences about the origins of linear programming". In: Mathematical programming : the state of the art. New York, 1983, p. 78-86.
  • The concern of OR with finding an optimum decision, policy, or design is one of its essential characteristics. It does not seek merely to define a better solution to a problem than the one in use; it seeks the best solution... [It] can be characterized as the application of scientific methods, techniques, and tools to problems involving the operations of systems so as to provide those in control of the operations with optimum solutions to the problems.
  • OR is the securing of improvement in social systems by means of scientific method
    • C. West Churchman (1970) "Operations research as a profession" cited in: Arjang A. Assad, Saul I. Gass (2011) Profiles in Operations Research: Pioneers and Innovators. p. 181.
  • By the end of the war the new game theoretic methods that had been developed by von Neumann and Morgenstern were added to the toolkit and mathematical techniques that operations research scientists deployed. These proved very valuable, and game theoretic approaches took on great importance after the war.
    • M. Fortun, and S.S. Schweber (1993) "Scientists and the Legacy of World War II: The Case of Operations Research (OR)." Social Studies of Science Vol 23, p. 604.

G - L

  • Operations research has many precursors and allied fields, including Taylorism (after Frederick W. Taylor), scientific management and management science, industrial engineering and systems analysis. As one early textbook explained, the roots of OR "are as old as science and the management function. Its name dates back only to 1940" (Churchman et al. 1957: 3). Certainly its practitioners have expended much energy and ink in search of an acceptable definition of OR. Morse tried unsuccessfully to halt the debate by declaring OR to be 'the activity carried on by members of the Operations Research Society' (Morse 1953: 159) But his colleagues were not so easily dissuaded from debate. Much of the concern with definition focused on the sometimes elusive distinctions between OR and neighbouring fields; the attempt to define, or redefine, OR was also born of the desire to allow the subject to evolve beyond the orthodoxy of wartime experience. Crucial considerations included the balance between model and application, and the complexity of the mathematics involved.
    • Ivor Grattan-Guinness (2003) Companion encyclopedia of the history and philosophy of the mathematical sciences, Vol 1. p. 841.
  • It is hard to say whether increasing complexity is the cause or the effect of man's effort to cope with his expanding environment. In either case a central feature of the trend has been the development of large and very complex systems which tie together modern society. These systems include abstract or non-physical systems, such as government and the economic system. They also include large physical systems like pipe line and power distribution systems, transportation and electrical communication systems. The growth of these systems has increased the need not only for over-all planning, but also for long-range development of the systems. This need has induced increased interest in the methods by which efficient planning and design can be accomplished in complex situations where no one scientific discipline can account for all the factors. Two similar disciplines which emerged about the time of World War II to cope with these problems are called systems engineering and operations research.
  • The Mathematical School ; Although mathematical methods can be used by any school of management theory, and have been, I have chosen to group under a school those theorists who see management as a system of mathematical models and processes. Perhaps the most widely known group I arbitrarily so lump are the operations researchers or operations analysts, who have sometimes anointed themselves with the rather pretentious name of "management scientists." The abiding belief of this group is that, if management, or organization, or planning, or decision making is a logical process, it can be expressed in terms of mathematical symbols and relationships. The central approach of this school is the model, for it is through these devices that the problem is expressed in its basic relationships and in terms of selected goals or objectives.
    • Harold Koontz, "The Management Theory Jungle," Journal of the Academy of Management, 4 (December 1961), p. 181

M - R

  • We should no longer have trouble explaining the scope and methods of operations research to the layman. We already can say: operations research is the activity carried on by members of the Operational Research Society; its methods are those reported in our journal.
    • Philip M. Morse (1953) "Trends in Operations Research." Operations Research Vol 1, p. 159.
  • The conclusions of most good operations research studies are obvious.
    • Robert E. Machol (1975) "Principles of Operations Research—9. The Hawthorne Effect." Interfaces 5:31-32.

S - Z

  • It may be said that systems engineering is directed at the design and operating problems of production processes and units, while operations research is applied to problems in other areas of management such as sales, marketing, and external finance.
    • Tappi (1959) Vol. 42. p. 573.
  • The development of information research has increased considerably the interaction of emerging information science with other disciplines. Librarianship has traditionally had links with education and classification and has drawn ideas from logic and philosophy. But during the last fifty years new insights and methods have been derived from sociology and social psychology, from computer science, from operations research and related quantitative approaches, from communications research, from linguistics, and most recently from the new hybrids: cognitive science and artificial intelligence.
    • B.C. Vickery ed. (1994) Fifty years of information progress. p. 7.
  • Operations research is a scientific approach to problem-solving for executive management.
    • H.M. Wagner (1969, p. 31); cited in: Donald R. Deutsch (1979) Modeling and measurement techniques for evaluation of design. p. 129.

See also

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