I saw this new site appear on HNQ, but you don't appear to have defined what it's about anywhere? The obvious locations, tour and on-topic have no details at all.

What is Operations Research? What is on-topic for this site?

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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How does a community define its norms with regard to closing questions? and here. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Rob not really, that's about too-broad and opinion-based questions. Nothing to do with what the actual topic of the site is. $\endgroup$
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ @People are free to vote for duplicate, or the close reasons too broad and opinion based (which at this point in time, prior to defining our site, is a well founded argument) but that simply closes and possibly deletes the question. Having it as a duplicate leaves it linked. As was mentioned by others in the comments below, this is something that can be researched in the other Q&A's rather than being asked/told twice. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Jun 29, 2019 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ What is Operations Research? I don't know. I've been doing it for almost 40 years and I still don't know. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2019 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


Welcome, and I'm glad you found your way here from HNQ.

Operations research (operational research, to some) is a set of mathematical and computational tools for making decisions about complex systems. Its major methodological subfields are things like mathematical optimization (linear programming; nonlinear/integer/stochastic programming; and so on), stochastic processes, and simulation. Its major application subfields are things like supply chain management, energy, health care, military, and humanitarian relief. It draws heavily on mathematics, computer science, statistics and probability, business, economics, and other fields. If you browse the questions or tags on the main site you'll get a sense of the kinds of topics we deal with.

We are a brand-new site; we entered public beta a week ago. So we haven't written our tour or on-topic pages yet, but expect to do that soon.

  • $\begingroup$ I assumed those would already be required in Area 51. Seems odd to go public without them. $\endgroup$
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 28, 2019 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ @OrangeDog No, the Area 51 process has the community define the scope through sample Q&A, but not to write up a statement like you would find on the tour or on-topic pages. Those are supposed to emerge from the discussions that the community has during beta. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2019 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @OrangeDog Fully determining a site's scope needs to take the 'public' opinion into account, so this is deliberate. For comparison, Quantum Computing took 9 months to fill in the on-topic help page. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2019 at 13:46

What is Operations Research? The obvious locations, tour and on-topic have no details at all.

I found a paper which provides a great definition of Operations Research:

Operations Research - December 2021 - Abas Khan, Mohammad Sarwar Mir

"Definition - Operations research (British English: operational research), often shortened to the initialism OR, is a discipline that deals with the development and application of advanced analytical methods to improve decision-making. It is sometimes considered to be a subfield of mathematical sciences.

The term management science is sometimes used as a synonym.

Employing techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as modeling, statistics, and optimization, operations research arrives at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems.

Because of its emphasis on practical applications, operations research has overlap with many other disciplines, notably industrial engineering.

Operations research is often concerned with determining the extreme values of some real-world objective: the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost).

Originating in military efforts before World War II, its techniques have grown to concern problems in a variety of industries.

The major sub-disciplines in modern operational research, as identified by the journal Operations Research, are:

  • Computing and information technologies
  • Financial engineering
  • Manufacturing, service sciences, and supply chain management
  • Policy modeling and public sector work
  • Revenue management
  • Simulation
  • Stochastic models
  • Transportation".

Please refer to the paper for more, or read Fundamentals of Operations Research - January 2022 - A. I. Erzin

Our Tour page is equal in length to the one on Physics.SE (or Stats.SE), and customized for our site. The On-Topic link is editable by the Moderators - because our site is new and we haven't had an election there are no Moderators.  

Wikipedia: "Employing techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as mathematical modeling, 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 extreme values of some real-world objective: the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost)."


What is on-topic for this site?

Look at our questions tagged [scope].

A 5 minute long explanation about OR is offered in the video: "INFORMS - O.R. and Analytics Impact", and INFORMS just uploaded a new video called: "Bright Future, Big Opportunities in O.R. and Analytics" (Oct 23 2019).

Here is a transcript of the 2nd 2 minute long video:

"Operations research and analytics play a role in nearly every part of our day to day lives, in ways both big and small, and in ways you may have never known.

And for students that are interested in math, science, and inspired to make a difference, operations research and analytics can offer a fulfilling career with limitless opportunities to make lasting contributions to the world around us.

Operations research, otherwise known as OR, uses advanced analytical methods to turn data into information, and information into insight, to help organizations make better and smarter decisions, or more simply stated, operations research and analytics saves lives, saves money, and solves problems.

From managing healthcare operations in hospitals, to improving emergency response services, enhancing surgical outcomes, expanding access to donated organs, and stopping the spread of diseases, OR and analytics are helping people live longer healthier lives.

Organizations across virtually every sector rely on powerful OR and analytics tools in nearly every aspect of how they function more efficiently and effectively. From resource allocation and management, to planning logistics, operations, and more.

OR and analytics are used to plan public transportation systems, determine economic and financial policies, drive new technologies, and innovate and improve the world around us. And that's just the beginning.

Virtually every organization uses OR and analytics to do things more efficiently and effectively. You can be a part of this incredible profession and make meaningful differences in the world around us.

If you are interested in learning more about operations research and analytics talk to your adviser or visit informs.org/students.".

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    $\begingroup$ The general public have a far greater understanding of what "physics" is, so I won't complain to them about not defining it. Your Wikipedia reference says "Operations Research" is a British only term. Perhaps it was not a great choice of site name. I even am British, and working in related fields, and have never heard of it. $\endgroup$
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 28, 2019 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Arguably the public struggles with "what is physics", because there are 21,249 closed questions out of 119,137 -- 100÷(119,137÷21,249)=17.8%. What to call the site was discussed during the definition phase, A longer name could have added some more information but the name was optimized. :) -- Wolfram's Mathworld has a definition. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ @OrangeDog Clarification: The Wikipedia reference says Operational Research is the British usage; Operations is the American (and, I think, Canadian?) usage. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2019 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ This answer is good (+1), however it comes off a bit optimization-focused which future readers should know is one of several main pillars of OR. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2019 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Something for the Main Meta. I suspect that as we move past our first few weeks we will allow topics on the edge of OR rather than only taking a bite out of the center. Some things will remain here and some thrust upon other communities. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Jun 28, 2019 at 21:13

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