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Operations Research

Operations research, or operational research in British usage, is a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. Further, the term 'operational analysis' is used in the British (and some British Commonwealth) military as an intrinsic part of capability development, management and assurance. Operational analysis forms part of the Combined Operational Effectiveness and Investment Appraisals (COEIA), which support British defence capability acquisition decision-making. It is often considered to be a sub-field of applied mathematics. The terms management science and decision science are sometimes used as synonyms. Employing techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as mathematical modelling, statistical analysis, and mathematical optimization, operations research arrives at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems. Because of its emphasis on human-technology interaction and because of its focus on practical applications, operations research has overlap with other disciplines, notably industrial engineering and operations management, and draws on psychology and organization science. Operations research is often concerned with determining the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost) of some real-world objective. Originating in military efforts before World War II, its techniques have grown to concern problems in a variety of industries.