Description of Operations
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Have you ever been jealous of your engineering friends and their senior
Have you ever gotten so excited about an application of mathematics that
you said, ``That's so cool!"?
Have you ever silently wished your book contained more of those shaded
Applications, Projects, and Case Studies sections?
Did you love Probability and Mathematical Modeling, but struggle through
Topology and Complex Analysis, arguing that you just didn't see the relevance
of those sujects?
If you answered ``Yes" to any of these questions, then maybe OR
is the match for you.
Meet OR, short for Operations
He's a well-rounded, personable guy with great communication, presentation
and writing skills. Because he was born during World War II, his
mother likes to proudly recall how he "helped take the guesswork out of
radar and searching for enemy submarines"  . But OR modestly claims
he merely uses ``a scientific approach to analyzing problems and making
decisions" . He often uses "mathematics and mathematical modeling
computers to forecast the implications of various choices and zero
in on the best alternatives" .
OR comes from a big family; his relatives include Mathematics, Statistics,
Computer Science, Engineering, Business, Finance, and Economics.
But OR also promises to introduce you to Queueing Theory, Optimization,
Network Analysis and Simulation.
OR has always had an interdisciplinary bent. In fact, in his free
time, he enjoys solving such diverse problems as :
What new sanitary facilities will be needed to serve the population of
Sun Valley, Idaho, in the year 2000?
How can a dress manufacturer lay out patterns to minimize wasted material?
How many elevators should be installed in a new office building to cut
What are the most cost-effective precautions to reduce the occurrence and
environmental impact of oil spills?
What's the most efficient method for routing a long-distance telephone
Or how long should the warranty on an automobile or appliance run, what
should it cover, and what will it cost the manufacturer?
Some of his major accomplishments include:
Saving Wrangler Jeans $37 million a year by implementing a seven-model
approach to inventory reduction.
Saving U.S. taxpayers over $25 billion by instituting the Medicare DRG
classification system. This system reduced the average patient stay
by 50% and improved hospital profits while maintaining the quality of care.
Creating SABRE Decision Technologies. SDT, a sister company of American
Airlines, makes the travel process painless for customers. Booking
a flight by phone is fast due to the real-time reservations system SDT
built for American Airlines. SDT also takes care of the flight and
crew schedules as well as overbooking decisions.
Developing ULAM (UNOS Liver Allocation Model). Liver transplant surgery
has developed into a life-saving medical technology. Since donated
livers are scarce, the allocation of livers is a difficult issue. Various
allocation policies are hotly debated. UNOS is the organization responsible
for maintaining patient waiting lists and running the program that allocates
donated organs to waiting patients. In 1995, UNOS contracted with
Pritsker Corporation, a company specializing in decision and simulation
analysis. The ULAM model, developed by Pritsker Corporation, uses simulation
to compare proposed alternative liver allocation policies. Now UNOS
uses an objective system to determine which allocation policy saves the
greatest number of lives.
Wow, what an industrious guy! And your parents will
be happy to hear that, in 1998 with his master's degree, OR averaged $47,070
 and plans to get his doctorate soon and earn over $70,000 annually
If you are interested in learning more about Operations Research, visit
the INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences)
website at http://www.informs.org.
 INFORMS Online. Career Booklet. Jan. 1997; available on the World
Wide Web at
 Occupational Outlook Handbook. Operations Research Analysts. April
2000; available at
page last updated by Amy Langville on 7/6/00