What is Operations Research?

Over on the suddenly active OR-Exchange, David Woods asked the question:

What are the best quick definitions describing operations research? The kind that you’d give to someone if you only had the duration of an elevator ride to describe it…

David then goes on to answer his question with a fantastic answer:

“Operations research is the art and science of obtaining bad answers to questions to which otherwise worse answers would be given.”

I love that! But I’m not sure that outsiders will really get it. Paraphrasing Steve Martin, “I stopped using irony when I realized I was the only one using it.”

So I’m left with “Operations Research is about making better decisions through mathematical models. Say, are you a baseball fan?” where I hope to squeeze in a story about operations research and sports scheduling. I’m hoping for a better line through the answers at OR-Exchange.

One thought on “What is Operations Research?”

  1. I personally love it when we have these types of discussions. It definitely helps when I get the often asked question “What is OR?” The simpler answers the better in my opinion.

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