University of Twente approach
This specialization belongs to the master's programme Applied Mathematics.
Operations Research (OR) is also referred to as Management Science or Business Analytics in business environments.
OR aims to develop mathematical and computational support for the evaluation and optimization of operational and logistical questions in industry, servicing (e.g. healthcare) and business.
OR at the University of Twente has a number of rather unique, appealing characteristics. First of all, it offers a well-balanced two-year programme: one theoretical year of fundamental and advanced courses and one applied year with an internship and thesis. You can compose your own course programme by choosing different OR related courses. Both deterministic and stochastic operations research are strongly represented. Secondly, it has staff members with excellent scientific records as well as two specialized research centres. Finally, it has an active group of over thirty Master’s and PhD students organizing student seminars, alumni activities and meetings with industry. Accordingly, career possibilities are excellent.
What is Operations Research?
Operations Research (OR) is also referred to as Management Science or Operations Management in business environments. In the UK it goes by the name of Operational Research, while the term Business Analytics is on the rise in the US, especially in connection with IT and data.
OR is closely associated with Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. In the Netherlands, it has strong links with Econometrics and Industrial Engineering.
As you might expect in such a new and dynamic field, no generally accepted definition has yet been formulated. However, the following brief description covers the main points:
“Operations Research can be regarded as applied mathematical analysis for logistical decision-making in industry, services and business. OR aims to develop mathematical and computational techniques to provide objective, analytical and quantitative support for the evaluation and optimization of complex situations of an operational and logistical nature in industry, service and business environments.”
How is operations research used?
Profit organizations generally aim to maximize profitability, while non-profit organizations focus on improving services and quality. The goal of both is therefore to optimize the effectiveness of resources within the context of all kinds of external and internal constraints. Key concepts within OR include:
- planning and scheduling
- efficiency and productivity
- throughput, delay and waiting times
Nowadays OR is used to achieve optimization in a wide range of fields from business environments (multinationals, sales companies, financial firms) to industry (production, distribution and supply chain networks). Transport is another major sector, from aviation (airports and airlines) to public transport and railways. Utilities and public services such as energy, communications, hospitals and healthcare are another relevant field. Last but not least, OR plays a leading role in the field of consultancy (logistical, healthcare, technical, simulation, financial, IT, supply chains).