WHAT IS OPERATIONS RESEARCH ?
The first formal activities of Operations Research (OR) were initiated
in England during World War II, when a team of British scientists set out to make scientifically based decisions regarding the best utilization of war materiel. After the war, the ideas advanced in military operations were adapted to improve efficiency and productivity in the civilian sector.
This chapter will familiarize you with the basic terminology of operations research, including mathematical modeling, feasible solutions, optimization, and iterative computations. You will learn that defining the problem correctly is the most important (and most difficult) phase of practicing OR. The chapter also emphasizes that, while mathematical modeling is a cornerstone of OR, intangible (unquantifiable) factors
(such as human behavior) must be accounted for in the final decision.
As you proceed through the book, you will be presented with a variety of applications through solved examples and chapter problems. In particular, Chapter 24 (on the CD) is entirely devoted to the presentation of fully developed case analyses. Chapter materials are crossreferenced with the cases to provide an appreciation of the use of OR in practice.
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