Browse Definitions :
Definition

operations research (OR)

Operations research (OR) is an analytical method of problem-solving and decision-making that is useful in the management of organizations. In operations research, problems are broken down into basic components and then solved in defined steps by mathematical analysis.

The process of operations research can be broadly broken down into the following steps:

  1. Identifying a problem that needs to be solved.
  2. Constructing a model around the problem that resembles the real world and variables.
  3. Using the model to derive solutions to the problem.
  4. Testing each solution on the model and analyzing its success.
  5. Implementing the solution to the actual problem.

Disciplines that are similar to, or overlap with, operations research include statistical analysis, management science, game theory, optimization theory, artificial intelligence and network analysis. All of these techniques have the goal of solving complex problems and improving quantitative decisions.

The concept of operations research arose during World War II by military planners. After the war, the techniques used in their operations research were applied to addressing problems in business, the government and society.

Characteristics of operations research

There are three primary characteristics of all operations research efforts:

  1. Optimization- The purpose of operations research is to achieve the best performance under the given circumstances. Optimization also involves comparing and narrowing down potential options.
  2. Simulation- This involves building models or replications in order to try out and test solutions before applying them.
  3. Probability and statistics- This includes using mathematical algorithms and data to uncover helpful insights and risks, make reliable predictions and test possible solutions.

Importance of operations research

The field of operations research provides a more powerful approach to decision making than ordinary software and data analytics tools. Employing operations research professionals can help companies achieve more complete datasets, consider all available options, predict all possible outcomes and estimate risk. Additionally, operations research can be tailored to specific business processes or use cases to determine which techniques are most appropriate to solve the problem.

Uses of operations research

Operations research can be applied to a variety of use cases, including:

  • Scheduling and time management.
  • Urban and agricultural planning.
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM).
  • Inventory management.
  • Network optimization and engineering.
  • Packet routing optimization.
  • Risk management.
This was last updated in September 2019

Continue Reading About operations research (OR)

SearchNetworking
  • throughput

    Throughput is a measure of how many units of information a system can process in a given amount of time.

  • traffic shaping

    Traffic shaping, also known as packet shaping, is a congestion management method that regulates network data transfer by delaying...

  • open networking

    Open networking describes a network that uses open standards and commodity hardware.

SearchSecurity
  • buffer underflow

    A buffer underflow, also known as a buffer underrun or a buffer underwrite, is when the buffer -- the temporary holding space ...

  • pen testing (penetration testing)

    A penetration test, also called a pen test or ethical hacking, is a cybersecurity technique that organizations use to identify, ...

  • single sign-on (SSO)

    Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials -- for ...

SearchCIO
  • benchmark

    A benchmark is a standard or point of reference people can use to measure something else.

  • spatial computing

    Spatial computing broadly characterizes the processes and tools used to capture, process and interact with 3D data.

  • organizational goals

    Organizational goals are strategic objectives that a company's management establishes to outline expected outcomes and guide ...

SearchHRSoftware
  • talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is the strategic process employers use to analyze their long-term talent needs in the context of business ...

  • employee retention

    Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping productive and talented workers and reducing turnover by fostering a ...

  • hybrid work model

    A hybrid work model is a workforce structure that includes employees who work remotely and those who work on site, in a company's...

SearchCustomerExperience
Close