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What is OR ?


What is OR
What is Operational Research ?

Though there is no "official definition" of Operational Research ("Operations Research" in the US), it 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.

Operational 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, multicriteria analysis, etc., which have powerful application to practical problems with the appropriate logical structure.

Operational 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 objective of Operational Researchers is to work with clients to find practical and pragmatic solutions to operational or strategic problems, often working within tight timing constraints. Once a good or better way of proceeding has been identified, Operational Researchers can also be central to the management of implementing the proposed changes.

Organisations may seek a very wide range of operational improvements - for example, greater efficiency, better customer service, higher quality or lower cost. Whatever the business engineering aim, OR can offer the flexibility and adaptability to provide objective help. Most of the problems OR tackles are messy and complex, often entailing considerable uncertainty. OR can use advanced quantitative methods, modelling, problem structuring, simulation and other analytical techniques to examine assumptions, facilitate an in -depth understanding and decide on practical action.

(source: EURO website)

  HEC-Management School - University of Liège