Definition of operations research
Operations Research is the professional discipline that deals with the application of information technology for informed decision-making. Operations research professionals aim to provide rational bases for decision making by seeking to understand and structure complex situations and to use this understanding to predict system behavior and improve system performance. Much of this work is done using analytical and numerical techniques to develop and manipulate mathematical and computer models of organizational systems composed of people, machines, and procedures.
Scope of operations research activities
Operations research plays an increasingly important role in both the public and private sectors. Operations research addresses a wide variety of issues in transportation, inventory planning, production planning, crew planning, communication network design and operation, computer operations, financial assets and risk management, revenue management, market clearing and many other topics that aim to improve business productivity. In the public domain it deals with such topics as energy policy, defense, health care, water resource planning, forestry management, design and operation of urban emergency systems and criminal justice.
Operations research community
Operations research draws upon ideas from engineering, management and mathematics and is closely related to several other fields in the decision sciences - applied mathematics, computer science, economics, industrial engineering, and systems engineering. Various professional societies such as INFORMS and IFORS guide the advancement of the operations research field and serve as a reference for further background information.