Operations Research - Definition
According to Philip McCord Morse and George E. Kimball,
"Operations research is a scientific method of providing executive departments with a quantitative basis for decisions regarding the operations under their control."
According to Russell L. Ackoff and C. West Churchman,
"Operations research is the application of scientific methods to arrive at the optimal solutions to the problems."
Image Credits © Emir.
Meaning of Operations Research
Operations research OR means to apply scientific and mathematical methods for decision making and problem solving.
OR does not provide decisions else it provides quantitative data to the managers. The managers use this data for making decisions.
OR tries to find better solutions to different problems. Hence, it is used to solve complex management problems.
OR helps to take decisions about operations and production.
OR was first used during the Second World War by England to solve their complex war problems. England made OR teams. These teams included expert mathematicians, statisticians, scientists, engineers, etc. These OR teams were very successful in solving England's war problems. Therefore, United States of America (USA) also started using OR to solve their war problems. After the war, soon industries and businesses also started using OR to solve their complex management problems.
Features of Operations Research
The main characteristics or features of operations research (OR) are:-
- Creating a Model : OR first makes a model. A model is a logical representation of a problem. It shows the relationships between the different variables in the problem. It is just like a mathematical formula.
For e.g. Assets - Liabilities = Capital + Accumulated Reserves.
- Shows Important Variables : OR shows the variables which are important for solving the problem. Many of the variables are uncontrollable.
- Symbolises the Model : The OR model, its variables and goals are converted into mathematical symbols. These symbols can be easily identified, and they can be used for calculation.
- Achieving the Goal : The main goal of OR is to select the best solution for solving the problem.
- Quantifying the Model : All variables in the OR model are quantified. That is, they are converted into numbers. This is because only quantified data can be put into the model to get results.
- Using Mathematical Devices : Data is supplemented with mathematical devices to narrow down the margin of error.
- Use of Computer : The main focus is on decision-making and problem solving. For this purpose computers are widely used.
- Interdisciplinary : OR is interdisciplinary, because it uses techniques from economics, mathematics, chemistry, physics, etc.
- Highest Efficiency : The main aim of OR is to make decisions and solve problems. This results in the highest possible efficiency.
Limitations of Operations Research
The demerits or limitations of operations research (OR) are depicted below.
- Costly : Operations Research (OR) is very costly. This is because OR makes mathematical models for taking decisions and solving problems. The company has to make various models for solving different problems. All this increments the cost.
- Not Realistic : OR experts make very complex models for solving problems. These models may not be realistic. Hence, they may not be useful for real-life situations.
- Complex : OR is very complex concept. It is very difficult for an average manager to understand it. Therefore, most managers do not use OR techniques.