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Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. Edward H. Kaplan 1. This chapter presents an overview of the field of operations research OR , with a glimpse toward its applicability to problems in intelligence analysis. I first define the field of operations research, and suggest the types of intelligence problems that it can and cannot best address.
I then offer a selective tour of current OR applications to illustrate the range of activities in which operations research is used, and provide some evidence indicating the value gained from using OR in practice. I next suggest how operations researchers approach new problems, provide a brief survey of different OR modeling methods that have been developed over the years, and note that the use of these techniques is now facilitated by computerized spreadsheet programs.
I close by suggesting some possible applications of these ideas to intelligence analysis, including the use of OR to study the intelligence production process. Examples include the steps involved in the production of manufactured goods, the servicing of customers in call centers or restaurants or hospitals or online , the determination of routes and schedules for delivering parcels e.
As will be elaborated below, the scientific study of operations reflects the methods of physical science, which is not surprising because the founders of OR were physical scientists. Early studies focused on establishing the physical principles underlying the mainly military operations in question via the analysis of operational data, the formulation of often simple mathematical models from first principles, and the design and analysis of experiments to test the results of such models.
The rationale for studying operations is not only to understand them which is the usual goal of scientific investigation , but also to use such understanding to make better operational decisions.
Thus, perhaps a more complete definition of OR is the scientific study of operations to make better decisions. For intelligence analysts, operations research offers powerful tools for understanding and analyzing certain classes of problems. As will be discussed later, the interdisciplinary field of decision analysis focuses on individual and group decision making; this field includes some operations research ideas, but also relies heavily on research in psychology, economics, and statistics.
Intelligence questions addressing intentions can, in principle, be approached via decision analysis and related game-theoretic models, but most OR methods are better suited for studying operations per se. Although OR cannot tell us if Hezbollah intends to launch an attack on American soil, the methods of operations research could be used to estimate the number of operatives required to execute different types of terror attacks, or perhaps even estimate the number of Hezbollah operatives or sympathizers in the country.
In applying OR to intelligence problems, the expectation is not that this approach will provide magic answers to otherwise unanswerable questions, but rather that the methods of OR can serve as powerful organizing devices for connecting different pieces of information, and suggest what unknown parameters for the system of interest are most important to ascertain. The superintendent of the Bawdsey Research Station, 3 A. Initial investigations included methods for managing fighters to counterattack bombers in both formation and individual combat.
As the war progressed, staff of the then-formalized in Royal Air Force Operational Research Section employed statistical analysis, deductive methods from the physical sciences, and common sense to analyze both offensive and defensive operations with an eye toward reducing their own casualties while inflicting maximal damage on the enemy Dyson, He was involved in the early radar studies and is credited with leading the team that discovered the relationship between the size of merchant marine convoys and the number of merchant ships sunk in U-boat pack attacks.
As detailed in Falconer and Morse. This led to the recommendation that merchant ships travel in larger convoys, which in turn greatly reduced shipping losses to the allied forces in the North Atlantic see Kirby, , for further details of the British origins of operational research. In , Morse agreed to join the war effort by organizing a group of scientists to help the U. Navy study its antisubmarine operations Morse, In addition to the merchant marine convoy problem discussed earlier, reported applications include finding the best search patterns to locate enemy ships and submarines, evaluating the trade-offs in the following situations:.
Using planes as merchant marine escorts and having these same planes bomb U-boat docks;. Determining the required forces of different types to undertake various military operations;. Evaluating rapid maneuvering versus antiaircraft fire to defend warships against Kamikaze suicide plane attacks;. Evaluating weapons effectiveness and determining the best methods for using them. Basic physical reasoning as captured in simple flow or differential equations , probability modeling, statistical analysis of both experimental and operational i.
Additional reflections on early OR methods and applications in the United States can be found in two Morse publications Morse, , One additional development with military roots has had a profound impact on the field of OR.
In , mathematician George Dantzig was on. Air Force Office of Statistical Control. One challenge he faced was to help the Air Force mechanize the process by which it scheduled and deployed forces, equipment, training, and other functions. This challenge led Dantzig to the formulation of the linear programming problem, a technique with wide applicability to decision-making problems, and the simplex algorithm for solving linear programs Gass, ; Dantzig, Linear programming and associated optimization techniques have since blossomed into one of the largest subfields of OR.
At the intersection of the engineering, mathematical, social, and physical sciences, it shared methods, application areas, and personalities with other growing disciplines, especially economics, statistics, and computer science. For example, the OR technique of linear programming was crucial to the development of practical solution methods in game theory McKinsey, ; game theory in turn has provided fundamental tools in economics and political science.
A concise and entertaining account of such developments in operations research can be found in Gass and Assad OR thus evolved as small groups of scientists worked to understand and improve military operations using whatever tools were available, or by developing new models if the situation so demanded.
Only after World War II did operations researchers seek to organize professionally and in academia. Little in Larson, The International Federation of Operational Research Societies boasts 48 active national member societies, and current applications beyond those found in the military abound in both the public and private sectors, as discussed next.
Returning to the definition of OR as the scientific study of operations for the purpose of making better decisions, manufacturing operations.
Some operations research programs can also be found within or in conjunction with mathematics or statistics departments. Engineering the design of a product is one thing, but managing its production is another. How should the required production steps be scheduled to most efficiently use the available capacity of labor and machines? Given the need to assemble a myriad of parts and store partially finished and finished product with attendant inventory holding costs in the face of uncertain end-product demand, how much inventory and what types should be held over time, and when should orders for additional supply be placed?
What are the best ways to measure quality levels and ensure the attainment of appropriate quality in production? How can one coordinate the activities of several different actors or players —such as suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers, each with their own incentives—to better coordinate entire supply chains? These questions and more fall within the subfield of manufacturing and supply chain management.
To appreciate the problems and opportunities that arise in distribution management, one need only consider the success of companies such as United Parcel Service and FedEx, which have built entire businesses around efficient distribution systems indeed, FedEx was identified by the Defense Science Board as a case study for learning how OR has been institutionalized successfully in the private sector; see Defense Science Board, The design and operation of such systems reflect some of the most famous problems in the study of network flows, including the transportation problem what is the cheapest way to ship products from a set of supply nodes [or sources] to a set of demand nodes [or sinks]?
Ahuja et al. Distribution problems are not restricted to the shipment of discrete units; consider the flow and pricing of electricity, oil, natural gas, or electronic funds. The key distinction between services and physical products is that services are usually produced and consumed at the same time. Customer satisfaction, often determined by the experience of waiting Larson, along with the price of service, is a key objective in managing service operations Wright and Race, Determining the appropriate service capacity e.
In the public sector, operations researchers have devoted considerable attention to the study and improvement of emergency services, including police Larson, , fire Walker et al. Additional public-sector applications include the criminal justice system, public transportation, energy, and the environment Pollock et al. In the private sector, the real-time pricing of services, known as yield or revenue management, is another aspect of services management where OR has had a major impact.
Revenue management methods are employed routinely in the airline, hotel, and car rental industries, among others Talluri and van Ryzin, Along with scholars and practitioners from many other academic disciplines, operations researchers have focused attention on different aspects of health care in recent years. The focus on the operations involved in delivering healthcare services is what distinguishes OR from other studies.
Needle exchange programs provide an example of this perspective. These controversial programs enable drug injectors to exchange used needles and syringes for clean ones to prevent HIV transmission via needle sharing National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Although many studies focused on surveys of program clients to determine whether rates of needle sharing declined as a.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, , many operations researchers have turned their attention to problems related to terrorism. Examples include the defense of critical infrastructure such as electricity grids, pipelines, and transportation hubs, including airports and subway stations, chemical plants, nuclear reactors, and major ports. Models for these scenarios have been developed, and in many cases the recommended courses of action have been adopted Brown et al.
Other examples include the operational as opposed to scientific effectiveness of detectors of suicide bombers Kaplan and Kress, , evaluation and proposed improvements to US-VISIT the Department of Homeland Security biometric identification program for immigration and border management at U.
In manufacturing and services applications, the monetary benefits that OR projects have generated, whether by increasing revenues or decreasing costs, have been documented in specific instances. Pringle reports several examples, including the following:.
Further examples of monetary benefits generated by industry OR groups appear in Bell et al. Clearly much can be gained by applying OR ideas in industry. How do operations researchers get started with a new project? Leaving to the side purely mathematical studies meant to improve the quantitative methods of OR, the goal of an applied study is to improve decision making. Historically, this has placed OR groups in an advisory role in which responsible decision makers e.
This does not imply that problems always arrive as well-posed questions; indeed, Morse and Kimball , p. For example, issues that might be addressed are the basic processes that characterize the flow of material in production processes; the transmission of infections in contagious outbreaks; the routing of Internet traffic; the movement of offenders through the criminal justice system; the generation and distribution of electricity; or the interdiction of terrorists en route to attack.
What part of these processes represents cause for concern e. Such expertise is often best gained via direct observation, which is why operations researchers have been known to ride around in police patrol cars, spend time on factory floors or in warehouses, or observe the formation and dissipation of lines at banks, on highways, in call centers, or at Disney World. Another important part of getting started is figuring out just what the decision maker is trying to achieve.
What are the objectives? If faced with two ways to implement the operation s in question, could the decision maker state which one is preferred and why? Getting decision makers to explicitly state their objectives in terms of performance measures represents a major step toward understanding the problem see Fischhoff, this volume, Chapter With a common understanding of objectives and performance measures, problem identification becomes much easier.
The hallmark of an OR study is the creation of a mathematical model that represents the operations of the system under study, and the choices and alternatives available to the decision maker, and that situates both within the appropriate environment.
Crafting a model is a creative act that is as much art as science. The relationship between observation and data collection on the one hand and model development on the other is bidirectional, in that the model can suggest new data to collect as easily as field observation can cause revision or abandonment of the model in question.
Most OR students are familiar with mathematical problem sets meant to drill and further teach the nuances of the modeling methods under study. For an empirical study of how operations modelers approach problems and formulate new models, see Willemain Although operations researchers employ many mathematical tools in their studies, and other quantitative disciplines apply many of these same.
All of these methods have and continue to be used in applications such as those outlined earlier. Although the interested reader can learn the basics of these methods from any good introductory textbook in operations research e.
Subscription price CiteScore 0. This signifies the importance of developing suitable operations research OR techniques and models. IJOR covers new theory and application of such techniques and models that include inventory, queuing, transportation, game theory, scheduling, project management, mathematical programming, decision-support systems, multi-criteria decision making, artificial intelligence, neural network, fuzzy logic, expert systems, simulation. New theories and applications of OR models are welcome. The main objective of IJOR is to promote research and application of operations research theory and application in new economy and society. The global dimension is emphasised in developing operational research theory and applications to meet the accelerating technological changes and changes in global economy. IJOR aims to act as a forum for exchanging innovative ideas and sharing practical experiences in teaching and learning of operations research theory, models and applications.
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A review of operations research models in invasive species management: state of the art, challenges, and future directions. Skip to Main Content. Skip to Search Box. Skip to Top Navigation Bar.
Jensen and Jonathan F. Bard John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Copyright — All rights reserved. Chapter 1 Problem Solving in Operations Research 1.
This chapter will provide an overview of Operations Research O. The focus of the chapter is on the basic philosophy behind O. In its most basic form, O. The mathematical details and the specific techniques used to build and analyze these models can be quite sophisticated and are addressed elsewhere in this handbook; the emphasis of this chapter is on the approach. A brief review of the historical origins of O.
Operations research British English : operational research OR is a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. Operational analysis forms part of the Combined Operational Effectiveness and Investment Appraisals, which support British defence capability acquisition decision-making.
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