The terms 'Management Science', ‘Operations Research’ and 'Operational Research' are often used interchangeably and sometimes considered to be synonymous. Modern Operational Research originated in the UK in 1937 where it was used to analyse and improve the working of the early warning radar system. During the World War II, Operational Research was regarded as a scientific method which provided a quantitative basis for decisions concerning operations under control. It was also known as operational analysis and quantitative management. Since then, early works in Operational Research which started with problem involving cost of transportation and sorting mail back in 1840 began to arise to include problems in physics, social sciences, logistics and other similar problems in industry. During the World War II era also, Operational Research was spread to the USA and was known as Operations Research. In the late 1950’s, the term Management Science started being used to describe it. Management Science has been oftenly viewed as to concern with developing and applying models and concepts which can analyse and solve management problems where the models can be mathematical models, computer models and either visual or verbal representation models whereas Operations Research is said to concentrate on the mathematics. The terms ‘Operational Research’, ‘Operations Research’ or ‘Management Science’ may have been defined differently but widely they have been accepted to refer to the same discipline.
Nowadays, Management Science / Operations Research (MSOR) is known to be the discipline of applying advanced analytical and quantitative methods to help make better decisions. Mathematical modelling approaches, solution techniques and decision tool of MSOR provide the means to arrive at these more effective decisions. MSOR deals with complex problems, sometimes with considerable uncertainty and extensive constraints, and aims at solving operations and management issues and bringing operational improvements which include lowering costs, optimizing profit, greater efficiency, higher quality or better service. Whatever the business engineering aim, MSOR can offer the flexibility and adaptability to provide practical and pragmatic solutions to operational or strategic problems as well as playing central roles to managing the implementations of such solutions.
MSOR reflects a discipline comprises of trained professionals who normally employ highly developed methods and use latest or advanced technologies to structurally defining and modelling the problem, making the most of available data, deriving solution and computational techniques for solving models developed and providing the analytical power using advanced tools.
MSOR applications affect us everyday in a wide variety of situations. In other words, the range of problems and issues to which MSOR has contributed insights and solutions is vast. Implementing MSOR methods can result in a spectacular impact on the effectiveness of systems or operations of the organizations and may lead to substantial costs savings, revenue or profit maximization and improved system. The following are some methods and areas of applications of MSOR: