What Is Operations Research? And How Does It Work?

Operations Research (OR), also known as operational research or management science, is a discipline that applies advanced analytical methods to make informed decisions and optimize complex systems.

It uses mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, and optimization techniques to solve problems and improve efficiency in various industries and sectors. With how progressive the field is, it isn’t surprising at all that several aspiring candidates are inquisitive about the sector and the potential opportunities. You can earn your masters in mechanical engineering and then venture into operations research as the next step in your career.

This article will further explore the foundational concepts that makeup Operations research and the accessory information surrounding it.

Page Contents

1. Problem Formulation

Source: aithefuture.wordpress.com

The first step involves clearly defining the problem or decision-making scenario. This includes identifying the objectives, constraints, variables, and stakeholders involved. For example, a transportation company might aim to minimize costs while maximizing delivery efficiency.

2. Model Development

Operations researchers develop mathematical models to represent the real-world problem. These models can be deterministic or probabilistic, and they capture the relationships between variables and constraints. Common modeling techniques include linear programming, network analysis, queuing theory, simulation, and decision analysis.

3. Data Collection and Analysis

Source: telusinternational.com

Relevant data is collected to feed into the model. This may involve gathering historical or real-time data on factors such as demand, resources, costs, and performance metrics. Operations researchers analyze the data to identify patterns, trends, and insights that inform the model and decision-making process.

4. Model Solution and Optimization

Using mathematical techniques and algorithms, the operations researchers solve the model to determine the optimal or near-optimal solution. Optimization methods like linear programming, nonlinear programming, integer programming, and dynamic programming are applied to find the best course of action that satisfies the defined objectives and constraints.

5. Sensitivity Analysis

Operations researchers perform sensitivity analysis to assess the robustness and reliability of the solution. They evaluate how changes in variables, constraints, or parameters affect the optimal solution. This helps in understanding the potential impact of uncertainties and enables decision-makers to make informed choices.

6. Implementation and Evaluation

Source: linkedin.com

Once a solution is obtained, it is implemented in the real-world setting. The operations researchers monitor and evaluate the implemented solution to assess its effectiveness, identify any deviations or performance gaps, and make necessary adjustments if required. This step allows for continuous improvement and learning from the operational outcomes.

These make up the basic factors that shape the prospect of operations research and the career that you can build surrounding it. By applying the principles of Operations Research, organizations can optimize their operations, improve resource allocation, streamline processes, reduce costs, enhance decision-making, and maximize overall efficiency.


If you are sitting there wondering about the application of operations research and its implications, we hope this article gives you all the insights that you potentially need to know. It is widely used in sectors such as transportation, logistics, manufacturing, healthcare, finance, telecommunications, and supply chain management, among others, to tackle complex problems and achieve optimal outcomes.