Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Operations Research in a word

Wordle: Operations Research academic titles

The DFW INFORMS chapter had a interesting meeting last week at Sabre Headquarters in South Lake, TX. The topic of discussion was "Applying OR in Brazil to solve real world challenges with OPTMODEL and SAS." Mary Grace Crissey of SAS did a wonderful job of showcasing SAS projects and how the challenges in Brazil were tackled. We had great side discussions throughout the evening. One such side discussion, that is nothing new, is the ambiguity of the "name" Operations Research. This is and will be the defining discussion of our profession in Operations Research.

One idea in the evening was to look to academia for a naming solution. Well that discussion quickly fell into disarray because Operations Research has its roots in Mathematics, Engineering, Management, Supply Chain, Computer Science and the list seems to go on and on. After the meeting I thought about it for a while. I remembered a post on Michael Trick's blog about using wordle for data visualization. I thought of using the INFORMS ORMS Education programs link site to create a wordle of Operations Research programs in the U.S. The picture on this post is a result of that wordle exercise.

So what do we learn from this wordle? Well its interesting to note the neither the word Operations nor Research are the most pronounced words. The biggest words are Engineering, Management, and Industrial. So is Operations Research really Engineering Management? Would it help if Operations Research were an accredited program by ABET or something similar? How does managment and engineering work together? Those terms almost seem polar opposites. Well I'm not sure we really solved a whole lot but it is interesting to look at how the education programs in the U.S. view Operations Research.

1 comment:

Bernoulli-Blogger said...

How about Business Decision Science. As I finished by bachelor degree late in life (graduating in 2 weeks), I was impressed in my operations management class with all the skills available to make better decisions. It dawned on me that operations is about making business decisions in a scientific manner.

Often if seems Operations has a focus on manufacturing, but the topics simulation, queuing theory, quality management, can also apply to service industries. But in both manufacturing and service these skills are used to model the business into quantifiable data so management can make better decisions. So beyond just the techniques of "decision theory", I think operations could be called Business Decision Science.