Operations Research

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Under Operations Research (US English.) Or Operational Research (UK English.) Briefly OR , the German occasionally operations research , business planning or optimization calculation is generally understood the development and use of quantitative models and methods for decision support. Operations research is shaped by the collaboration between applied mathematics , economics and computer science .


The term operational research originally comes from the military . It was used in 1937 for a group of scientists investigating the optimal design of a radar surveillance system for the British armed forces. In 1940 the British Aviation Department had its own operational research group . The British Army and Royal Navy formed corresponding groups in the same year. Other questions posed by the working groups founded in England, the USA, here called Operations Research, and the Soviet Union during the Second World War included the optimal number of ships and escorts for ship convoys or the optimal width of bomb carpets in terms of accuracy and spread. After the war, the employees turned to economic areas, with the task of achieving a desired result at the lowest possible cost, or the dual task of achieving the best possible result with the means available ( economic principle ).

Of Operations Research, in Britain traditionally Operational Research called, no single German term could prevail universally valid. The term corporate research and then also operational research or mathematical planning calculations were and are most frequently used . In the late 1960s and early 1970s attempts were unsuccessful to establish the term process and planning research in the German language, so from 1959 to 1971 the scientific journal process and planning research was published .

Operations research is used today in engineering , business informatics and economics . There are also connections to game theory .

The professional societies are the German Society for Operations Research , the Austrian Society for Operations Research (ÖGOR) and the Swiss Association for Operations Research (SVOR) . The umbrella organizations are the European umbrella organization for OR, the Association of European Operational Research Societies (EURO), and the international association The International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS) .


The most important part of Operations Research is mathematical optimization , especially integer optimization ( discrete mathematics ). The mathematical preparation of decisions requires knowledge in the areas of matrix calculation , vector analysis , stochastics and graph theory . The real problem lies in the modeling of a real problem in a mathematical model. Many practical problems of operations research are solved today with appropriate software products . Depending on the point of view and the task at hand, operations research is considered in different areas:

known problems

Some known issues in Operations Research are:

These can often be modeled as path problems with the help of methods from graph theory . Even if some of these problems have practical applications, for example, transportation problems and reloading problems are more important in practice.

See also



Freely available OR software

Free OR software services (SaaS)

Web links

Commons : Operations research  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Domschke, Drexl: Introduction to Operations Research , 6th edition, p. 2.
  2. ^ Society for Operations Research: Operations Research . Accessed February 12, 2011
  3. See Thomas, William: Rational Action. The Sciences of Policy in Britain and America, 1940-1960 (= Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology). Cambridge, MS: MIT Press 2015.
  4. ^ A b Hans-Jürgen Zimmermann: Operations Research: Methods and Models . Vieweg Verlag, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-528-03210-3 , p. 6ff
  5. Bodo Runzheimer, Thomas Cleff and Wolfgang Schäfer: Operations Research 1 . 8th edition. Publishing house Dr. Th. Gabler, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-409-30718-4 , p. 1
  6. ^ Heinrich Grass: Operations Research in Practice . Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-486-58032-9 , p. 13ff
  7. ^ Wolfgang Domschke, Andreas Drexl: Introduction to Operations Research . 6th edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-540-42950-6 , p. 7ff.