Operations Research is the use of scientific methodology in the formulation, analysis, and solution of problems in decision making. The term Operations Research originated in World War II to describe studies of military operations involving man-machine systems. Since its origin, operations researchers have addressed a wide variety of problems, including production and inventory control, transportation and distribution system design, capital investment marketing strategies, health maintenance, pollution control, personnel staffing, military deployment, resource management and other regional planning problems, just to name a few. The applications of operations research are numerous, and more importantly, new applications are continually arising. The strength and versatility of operations research lie in its ability to model the behavior of complex systems in quantitative mathematical terms, as well as its prescriptive power through analysis and synthesis.
The graduate programs in Operations Research at Penn State are administered by the Chair of the Operations Research Program, which resides in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. These programs are offered as dual-title degrees in conjunction with the graduate major programs in twenty different colleges of the University. Students electing these options through participating graduate programs will earn a dual-title degree at either the Ph.D., the M.S., M.Eng., or M A. levels–i e., Ph D. in (graduate program name) and Operations Research, or M.S. in (graduate program name) and Operations Research. Doctoral students can also earn a minor in Operations Research.
Operations Research is interdisciplinary by nature and draws on the techniques from many fields, including the mathematical sciences, engineering, economics, and the physical sciences. The unique structure of the program enables students from rather diverse backgrounds to attain and be identified with the tools, techniques, and methodology of Operations Research and at the same time maintain a close association with their field of major interest. The opportunity to study and work with others from such diverse backgrounds provides an enriching experience not usually available in graduate work. By a judicious selection of courses, a student can tailor a plan of graduate study to meet career objectives in both of the chosen fields.