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Operational research, also known as operations research, is an interdisciplinary mathematical science that focuses on the effective use of technology by organizations. In contrast, many other science & engineering disciplines focus on technology giving secondary considerations to its use.

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. Because of its emphasis on human-technology interaction and because of its focus on practical applications, operations research has overlap with other disciplines, notably industrial engineering and management science, and draws on psychology and organization science. Operations Research is often concerned with determining the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost) of some real-world objective. Originating in military efforts before World War II, its techniques have grown to concern problems in a variety of industries.[1]

Contents

Overview

Operational research encompasses a wide range of problem-solving techniques and methods applied in the pursuit of improved decision-making and efficiency.[2] Some of the tools used by operational researchers are statistics, optimization, probability theory, queuing theory, game theory, graph theory, decision analysis, mathematical modeling and simulation. Because of the computational nature of these fields, OR also has strong ties to computer science and analytics. Operational 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.

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