By NITIN ATREYAB.Sc. MATHEMATICAL SCIENCE
What is operations research ?
What are its applications in different fields ?
How can it help us in future ?
After I had crossed the boundaries of school and was ready to enter a new life of college, I did my best to know about the various courses being offered in different colleges and universities. I wanted to take admission in any course of my interest which could also give me a wide range of choice in future to enter different fields of work. Then I came to know about B.Sc (Mathematical Sciences) with Computer Science, Operational Research and Mathematics as the main subjects.
Everybody knows about Computer Science and Mathematics. But what is the need of including Operations Research in this course ?
To know this and to get answers of the various questions I had in my mind, which I have already mentioned in the beginning, I referred to some books and met different people related to this field. And finally, I found that this is one of the best course available in colleges.
If you also want to know about Operations Research, which I think you would definitely like to do, this article of mine would help you a lot.
"O.R. is the art of giving bad answers to problems which otherwise have worse answer."
THE ORIGIN OF OPERATIONS RESEARCH
The subject content of Operations Research (usually called O.R.) go under different names in different parts of the world. Operational Research, O.R.Techniques, System Approach, Optimization, Quantitative Methods in Decision Analysis are some of the titles used, their contents being more or less the same.
The word "Operations Research" had their origin during World War-II.The British and the American military management called upon a large number of scientists to apply a scientific approach to deal with the strategic and tactical problems.These teams of scientists were the first Operations Research teams.The term, Operations Research, was first coined by McClosky and Trefthen in 1940 and this subject dealt with the scientific methods applied to war operations. A classic example of this was to do with the dropping of a bomb from an aircraft on a submarine so as to cause the maximum destruction. The problem actually was concerned with the setting of the time fuse of the bomb so that when the aircraft sighted the submarine and dropped the bomb, the diving of the submarine and the explosion of the bomb could match in such a way as to ensure maximum probability of destruction to the submarine.
After the World War, the industrial boom was running its course. The success of O.R. in the military attracted industrial managers who wanted this kind of systematic approach to solve their complex problems related to the Industrial Management.And then they made their own O.R. teams.
O.R is a branch of Applied Mathematics which has witnessed a remarkable phenomenal growth during the last two decades.The two main factors that played a key role in the rapid growth of O.R. can be identified. One was the substantial progress that was made easily in improving the techniques available to O.R. .The second factor was the development of the electronic digital computers.
OPERATIONS RESEARCH IN INDIA
Towards the application of O.R. in India, Prof. Mahalonobis made the first important application. He formulated the second Five-Year Plan with the help of O.R. technique. It was felt that the primary necessity of the country is to produce well-trained O.R. practitioners who can tackle practical problems.So sum of the institutions started producing O.R. workers to meet the present and future needs of India.Organised industries in India are gradually becoming conscious
of the role of O.R.and a good number of them have well-trained O.R. teams.
Some Important Societies Related to Operations Research ;
* Operations Research Society of America (1950)
* International Federation of O.R . (1959)
* Regional Research Laboratory, Hyderabad (1949)
* Defence Science Laboratory (1949)
* Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta (1953)
* O.R . Society of India (1957)
* The Indian Institute of Industrian Engineers.
THE NATURE OF OPERATIONS RESEARCH
As its name implies, Operations Research involves "research on operation".In fact, it is very difficult to define O.R., mainly because of the fact that its boundaries are not clearly marked. The contribution from the O.R. approach stems primarily from ;
1. The structuring of the real life situation into a mathematical model, abstracting the essential element so that a solution relevent to the decision makerís objectives can be sought. This involves looking at the problem in the context of the entire system.
2. Exploring the structure of such solutions and developing systematic procedure for obtaining them.
3. Developing a solution, including the mathematical theory, if necessary, that yields an optimal value of the system measure of desirability.
CAREER IN O.R.
Operations Research has had an increasingly great impact on the management of organisations in recent years. Both the number and the variety of its application s continues to grow rapidly, and no slowdown is in sight.
Because of the great growth of O.R ., career oppertunities in this field appear to be outstanding . The demand for traind people continues to far exceed the supply. Because of the nature of their work, O.R. groups tend to have a prominent staff position, with access to higher level management in the organisation.
Three complementry type of acadamic training are perticularly relevant for all career in O.R.;
1. Basic training in the fundamentals upon which O.R. is based. This includes the basic methodology of mathematics and science as well as topics as linear algebera and matrix theory, probablity theory, statistical inferance, stochastic processes, computer science, micro economics, accounting and business administration, organization theory, and the behavioral science .
2. The second type include special techniques of the field such as linear and nonlinear programming, dynamic programming , inventory theory, network flow theory , queueing models, reliability, game theory, and simulation.
3. Finally, it also well to have specialized trainning in some field other than O.R., for example, mathematics, statistics, industrial engineering, business , or economics. This additional trainning provides one with an area of special competence for applying O.R..
O.R. is mainly concerned with the techniques of applying scientific knowledge, besides the development of science .It provides an understanding which gives the experts/managers new insights and capabilities to determine better solutions in his decision-making problems, with great speed , competence and confidence . In recent years , O.R. has successfully entered many different areas of resarch in Defence ,Government, Service Organisations and Industry.Almost all the dozen or so larjest corporations in the world, and a sizable proportion of the small industrial organizations, have well-established operations research groups.
Some applications of O.R in the functional areas of management ;
* Product selection, timing, competitive actions.
* Advertising media with respect to cost and time .
* Number of salesmen, frequency of calling of account, etc.
* Effectiveness of market research .
2. Purchasing, Procurement & Exploration
* Rules for buying .
* Determinig the quantity and timing of purchase.
* Bidding policies and vendor analysis.
* Equipment replacement policies.
* Forcasting manpower requirement, Recruitment policies & assignment of jobs
* Selection of suitable personnel with due consideration for age and skills, etc.
* Determination of optimum number of persons for each service centre .
4. Research & Development
* Reliability and evalution of alternative designs.
* Control of developed projects.
* Co-ordination of multiple research projects.
* Determination of time and cost requirements.
5. Finance, Budgeting & Investment
* Cash flow analysis, long range capital requirements, dividing policies, investment portfolios.
* Credit policies, credit risks and deliquent account procedures .
* Claim and complaint procedure .
* Scheduling and sequencing the production run by proper allocation of machines.
* Calculating the optimum product mix.
* Selection, locationb and design of the sites for the production plant.
Besides these, its use has now extended to a wide range of problems, such as the problems of communication and information, socio-economic fields and national planning.
In 1950, O.R. achieved recognition as a subject worthy of academic study in the universities.
Since then , the subject has been gaining more and more importance for the students of Economics,Management , Public Administration, Behavioural Sciences , Social Work , Mathematics , Commerce and Engineering .
Operations Research exist in Delhi University since 1963. As this subject is gaining popularity in Indian Industries and new jobs related to O.R. are emerging , so it has been introduced at graduation level . Computer and Mathematics are related to O.R. in great extent and hence the course , B.Sc Mathematical Sciences , has Computer Science and Mathematics as the other two main subjects . The most popular practical application of O.R. in India has been mainly of Linear Programming and this course gives a good knowledge of Linear Programming Problems .
Computers is the backbone of Operations Research , therefore I must conclude that with the growing advent of Computers O.R. will grow up to such an extent that it would influence all the parts of life .
* Operations Research - by Kanti Swarup , P.K. Gupta , Man Mohan
* Operations Research for Executives - by L.S. Srinath
* Operations Research - by Frederick S.Hiller, Gerald J.Lieberman
* Introduction To O.R. - by Billy E.Gillett (Tata McGraw - Hill )
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