Operations research is the application of the methods of science to complex problems in the direction and management of large systems of men, machines, materials, and money in the industry, business, government, and defense. The distinctive approach is to develop a scientific model of the system incorporating measurements of factors such as chance and risk, with which to predict and compare the outcomes of alternative decisions, strategies, or controls. The purpose is to help management in determining its policy and actions scientifically.
Advantages of Operations Research:
In addition to learning about various OR (Operations Research) models that are useful to arrive at an optimal decision, the knowledge of operations research techniques can also help the decision-maker attain several other advantages as listed below.
- A structured approach to problems – A substantial amount of time and effort can be saved in developing and solving OR models if a logical and consistent approach is followed. This implies that the decision-maker has to be careful while defining variables, availability of resources, and functional relationships among variables in the objective function and constraints. This will also reduce the chance of conceptual and computational errors. Any such error can also be detected easily and corrected at an early stage.
- A critical approach to problem-solving – The decision-maker will come to understand various components of the problem and accordingly select a mathematical model for solving the given problem. He will become aware of the explicit and implicit assumptions and limitations of such models. Problem solutions are examined critically and the effect of any change and error in the problem data can be studied through sensitivity analysis techniques.
- The OR approach to problem-solving facilitates identifying gaps in the data required to support a solution to a problem and allows for the use of computer software to solve a problem.
Disadvantages of Operations Research:
- The solution to a problem is often derived by simplifying assumptions. Consequently, such solutions are not optimal.
- Models may not represent the realistic situations in which decisions are made.
- Often the decision-maker is not fully aware of the limitations of the models.
Operations Research Theory and Applications – JK Sharma