Brief History of Operations Research

Operations Research (Operational Research, O.R., or Management science) includes a great deal of problem-solving techniques like Mathematical models, Statistics and algorithms to aid in decision-making. O.R. is employed to analyze complex real-world systems, generally with the objective of improving or optimizing performance.

In other words, Operations Research is an interdisciplinary branch of applied mathematics and formal science which makes use of methods like mathematical modeling, algorithms statistics and statistics to reach optimal or near optimal solutions to complex situations.

It is usually worried about optimizing the maxima (for instance, profit, assembly line performance, bandwidth, etc) or minima (for instance, loss, risk, cost, etc.) of some objective function. Operational Research aids the management to accomplish its objectives utilizing scientific methods.

Origin and History of Operations Research in Brief

While researching for operations research (O.R.) history, I discovered that history is not clear cut, different people have diverse views of the same event.

Based on the history of Operations Research, it is believed that Charles Babbage (1791-1871) is the father of Operational Research due to the fact that his research into the cost of transportation and sorting of mail resulted in England’s universal Penny Post in 1840.

The name operations research evolved in the year 1940. During World War 2, a team of scientist (Blackett’s Circus) in UK applied scientific techniques to research military operations to win the war and the techniques thus developed was named as operation research.

As a formal discipline, operations research originated from the efforts of army advisors at the time of World War II. In the years following the war, the methods started to be employed extensively to problems in business, industry and society. Ever since then, OR has developed into a subject frequently employed in industries including petrochemicals, logistics, airlines, finance, government, etc.

Thus, the Operational Research began during World War II in great Britain with the establishment of groups of scientists to analyze the strategic and tactical problems associated with military operations. The aim was to discover the most efficient usage of limited military resources by the application of quantitative techniques.

History of Operations Research

Figure – O.R. Origin

At the conclusion of war different things happened to O.R. in the Great Britain and in the United States. In the UK expenses on defense research were lowered; this resulted in the discharge of numerous Operational Research workers from the military at a time when business managers were facing the need to restore much of Britain’s production facilities which had been ruined in war. Professionals in the nationalized basic industries, specifically, needed assistance from the OR men leaving the military organization.

To the contrary, defense research in US was increased and O.R. was expanded at the conclusion of war. The majority of the experienced workers stayed in the service of the army. The ultimate involvement of science in industrial problems of the executive type in the US is a result of the advent of Second Industrial revolution.

World war II had sparked scientific advances in the study of communication, computation, & control which produced the technological grounds for automation. In early 1950s industry started to take in a few of the Operational Research workers who left the army. Thus O.R. started to spread and expand in the United States.

Read Also: Origin of Operations Research

Video: Introduction to Operational Research

India was among the few nations which began utilizing O.R. In 1949, the first Operational Research unit was established at Hyderabad which was named Regional Research Laboratory located. At the same time an additional unit was launched in Defense Science Laboratory to fix the Stores, Purchase and Planning Problems.

In 1953 at Calcutta, an O.R. unit was established in Indian Statistical Institute. The objective was to use O.R. techniques in National Planning and Survey. In 1955, Operations Research Society of India was created, which is among the first members of International Federation of Operations Research societies. Today, the utilization of O.R. techniques have spread out from army to a wide range of departments at all levels.

Read Also: Best E-book on Operations Research

In this article, we discussed about the historical development of Operations Research in brief . In case we have missed something then post in comments section.


  1. William says

    Great article on History of Operations Research. if you are posting on additional places, I’d like to follow you.
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  2. Thanks for providing the resource on operational research history.

  3. blessing James says

    Thanks for much drawing at least to the conclusion aspect of the origin and history of OR

  4. Thanks for the historic origin of operation research, it really made me understand more of O.R. Thanks…

  5. sudhaker says

    Thank you for providing history in detail and in very effective manner.

  6. Adams Williams says

    Thank you for giving us d history O.R
    God bless u

  7. Herbert Sean Agaba says

    Thanks for brief history about O..R,but could you also continue and elaborate on the historical development of O.R in Africa

  8. brief but well detailed , keep up

  9. Amaji Prince Nzube says

    Thanks so much, this was helpful. brief and well detailed…

  10. Daniel Jemdosquad says

    wow!!! very educative that for unvailing the history of opeartional research

  11. Great article thanks for the brief history of operation research it really help.

  12. ONAH PETER says

    Thanks for the explanation. Currently i am doing operating research as a unit in mathematics at MARIST INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE NAIROBI, KENYA AFRICA. I hope this will go a long way in assisting me more and more.

  13. It is really helpful

  14. Very helpful but I need to know more about the development of OR. Currently taking a course on it . Would be helpful. Caio

  15. This Just Helped Me Answer My Assignment Questions in Entirety, Thank You

  16. sridevi polasi says

    Tq really it is more informatic

  17. Well, i really like, it, it is informative and educative to ma, just made me to answer my assignment, more kudos.

  18. Thanks so much for helping me to understand what operation research is all about and it’s history

  19. John Pella says

    Very interesting

  20. Interesting facts, which softwares under the OR are available for logistical use and planning

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