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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.

Analytical methods used in OR include mathematical logic, simulation, network analysis, queuing theory , and game theory . The process can be broadly broken down into three steps.

  1. A set of potential solutions to a problem is developed. (This set may be large.)
  2. The alternatives derived in the first step are analyzed and reduced to a small set of solutions most likely to prove workable.
  3. The alternatives derived in the second step are subjected to simulated implementation and, if possible, tested out in real-world situations. In this final step, psychology and management science often play important roles.
This was last updated in March 2011

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