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Operations research (British English: operational research) (U.S. Air Force Specialty Code: Operations Analysis), often shortened to the initialism OR, is a discipline that deals with the development and application of analytical methods to improve decision-making. It is considered to be a subfield of mathematical sciences. The term management science is occasionally 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 decision-making problems. Because of its emphasis on practical applications, operations research has overlapped 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.