# Foundations of Operations Research

**- Overview**

Operations research (OR) is a discipline that uses analytical methods to improve decision-making. It is also known as management science and industrial engineering.

OR is a branch of applied mathematics that uses mathematical models, statistics, and algorithms to aid in decision-making. It is often used to analyze complex real-world systems, typically with the goal of improving or optimizing performance.

OR uses a variety of techniques and methods, including:

- Simulation
- Mathematical optimization
- Queueing theory
- Markov decision processes
- Econometric methods
- Data envelopment analysis
- Ordinal priority approach

**- Mathematical Programming (or Mathematical Optimization)**

Management science is characterized by a scientific approach to managerial decision making. It attempts to apply mathematical methods and the capabilities of modern computers to the difficult and unstructured problems confronting modern managers. It is a young and novel discipline.

Although its roots can be traced back to problems posed by early civilizations, it was not until World War II that it became identified as a respectable and well defined body of knowledge. Since then, it has grown at an impressive pace, unprecedented for most scientific accomplishments; it is changing our attitudes toward decision-making, and infiltrating every conceivable area of application, covering a wide variety of business, industrial, military, and public-sector problems.

Management science has been known by a variety of other names. In the United States, operations research has served as a synonym and it is used widely today, while in Britain operational research seems to be the more accepted name. Some people tend to identify the scientific approach to managerial problemsolving under such other names as systems analysis, cost–benefit analysis, and cost-effectiveness analysis.

Mathematical programming, and especially linear programming, is one of the best developed and most used branches of management science. It concerns the optimum allocation of limited resources among competing activities, under a set of constraints imposed by the nature of the problem being studied. These constraints could reflect financial, technological, marketing, organizational, or many other considerations.

In broad terms, mathematical programming can be defined as a mathematical representation aimed at programming or planning the best possible allocation of scarce resources. When the mathematical representation uses linear functions exclusively, we have a linear-programming model.

**[More to come ...]**