The most important feature of operations research is the use of the scientific method and the building of decision models. The operations research approach to problem-solving is based on three phases, namely
(i) Judgement Phase;
(ii) Research Phase, and
(iii) Action Phase.
This phase includes:
- identification of the real-life problem,
- selection of an appropriate objective and the values of various variables related to this objective,
- application of the appropriate scale of measurement, i.e. deciding the measures of effectiveness (desirability), and
- formulation of an appropriate model of the problem and the abstraction of the essential information, so that a solution to the decision maker’s goals can be obtained.
This phase is the largest and longest of all the phases. However, even though the remaining two are not as long, they are also equally important as they provide the basis for a scientific method. This phase utilizes:
- observations and data collection for a better understanding of the problem,
- formulation of hypothesis and model,
- observation and experimentation to test the hypothesis on the basis of additional data,
- analysis of the available information and verification of the hypothesis using pre-established measures of desirability,
- prediction of various results from the hypothesis, and
- generalization of the result and consideration of alternative methods.
This phase consists of making recommendations for implementing the decision. This decision is implemented by an individual who is in a position to implement results. This individual must be aware of the environment in which the problem occurred, be aware of the objective, assumptions behind the problem, and the required omissions of the model.
Operations Research Theory and Applications – JK Sharma