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Operations Research Models and Methods
Models Section
What is Operations Research?


The activities carried out in an organization related to attaining its goals and objectives.


The process of observation and testing characterized by the scientific method. The steps of the process include observing the situation and formulating a problem statement, constructing a mathematical model, hypothesizing that the model represents the important aspects of the situation, and validating the model through experimentation.


The society in which the problem arises or for which the solution is important. The organization may be a corporation, a branch of government, a department within a firm, a group of employees, or perhaps even a household or individual.


An individual or group in the organization capable of proposing and implementing necessary actions.


An individual called upon to aid the decision maker in the problem solving process. The analyst typically has special skills in modeling, mathematics, data gathering, and computer implementation.


A group of individuals bringing various skills and viewpoints to a problem. Historically, operations research has used the team approach in order that the solution not be limited by past experience or too narrow a focus. A team also provides the collection of specialized skills that are rarely found in a single individual.


An abstract representation of reality. As used here, a representation of a decision problem related to the operations of the organization. The model is usually presented in mathematical terms and includes a statement of the assumptions used in the functional relationships. Models can also be physical, narrative, or a set of rules embodied in a computer program.


An approach to analysis that attempts to ascertain and include the broad implications of decisions for the organization. Both quantitative and qualitative factors are included in the analysis.


A solution to the model that optimizes (maximizes or minimizes) some objective measure of merit over all feasible solutions -- the best solution amongst all alternatives given the organizational, physical and technological constraints.


A collection of general mathematical models, analytical procedures, and optimization algorithms that have been found useful in quantitative studies. These include linear programming, integer programming, network programming, nonlinear programming, dynamic programming, statistical analysis, probability theory, queuing theory, stochastic processes, simulation, inventory theory, reliability, decision analysis, and others. Operations research professionals have created some of these fields while others derive from allied disciplines.

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Operations Research Models and Methods
by Paul A. Jensen
Copyright 2004 - All rights reserved