Operations Research Major

Operations Research Major

Operations Research

Major

Operations research is a scientific approach to decision-making with a focus on how to best design and operate systems, usually under conditions requiring the allocation of scarce resources.

Offered by the Department of Mathematics Sciences.

Operations research is a scientific approach that applies quantitative methods to decision-making with a focus on how best to design and operate systems, usually under conditions requiring the allocation of scarce resources. However, whether one means the term to be a professional designation, a label for a body of methods, or an approach to problem-solving, operations research is today inextricably linked to the direction and management of large systems of people, machines, materials, and money in government, industry, business, and defense.

Since its inception during WWII, the interdisciplinary field of operations research has set itself apart as an applied mathematical science and engineering discipline with a diverse range of applications. Because of the increased demand for operations research analyses within the Army, the operations research specialty continues to enjoy steady growth in membership, and is associated with superb educational and promotion opportunities throughout an officer's military career. West Point remains the single largest source of operations research officers for the Army.

Graduates of the operations research program at USMA are well prepared to tackle some of the Army's most challenging problems and to pursue graduate study in support of the operations research career field.

The operations research curriculum offers a combination of mathematical optimization, statistics, systems engineering, engineering management, computer science, and economics. This broad foundation of problem-solving skills and knowledge afford an adept perspective when confronting the challenging and complex problems that face military, government, and industry leaders.

The major offers an honors option.

Military Applications of Operations Research

The military specifically uses Operations Research at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. The applications cover a full spectrum of military activities including national policy analysis, resource allocation, force composition and modernization, logistics, human resources, battle planning, and maintenance and replenishment.

Program of Study

Operations Research applies quantitative methods to decision-making. The Operations Research curriculum offers a combination of mathematical optimization, statistics, systems engineering, engineering management, computer science, and economics. This broad foundation of problem-solving skills and knowledge afford an adept perspective when confronting the challenging and complex problems that face military, government, and industry leaders.

Student Outcomes

The student outcomes of the operations research major include:    

  1. Demonstrate competence in modeling processes and systems by:
    • Identifying and articulating assumptions, metrics and constraints
    • Applying appropriate solutions techniques
    • Interpreting results within the appropriate context
  2. Argue and inquire soundly and rigorously; become independent questioners and learners
  3. Achieve proficiency in operations research – in breadth and depth
    • Understand and apply probabilistic and statistical models and methods
    • Understand and apply simulation methods
    • Understand and apply optimization methods
  4. Communicate effectively - orally and in writing
  5. Use technology to model, visualize, and solve complex problems
  6. Develop attitudes – habits of mind:
    • Creative and curious
    • Experimental disposition
    • Critical thinking and reasoning
    • Commitment to life-long learning
  7. Understand the role of operations research in interdisciplinary problem solving

Contact a Department of Mathematical Sciences Academic Counselor:

To learn more about this area of study, visit the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Required Courses

  • MA371 LINEAR ALGEBRA 
  • MA376 APPLIED STATISTICS 
  • MA381 NONLINEAR OPTIMIZATION 
  • MA476 MATHEMATICAL STATISTICS 
  • MA477 THEORY & APPL OF DATA SCIENCE 
  • MA481 LINEAR OPTIMIZATION 
  • MA486 MATHEMATICAL COMPUTATION 
  • SE385 DECISION ANALYSIS

Sample Electives

  • EM381 ENGINEERING ECONOMY 
  • EM411 PROJECT MANAGEMENT 
  • EM420 PRODUCTION OPERATIONS MGMT 
  • EM482 SUPPLY CHAIN ENG & INFO MGMT 
  • SE370 COMPUTER AIDED SYSTEMS ENG
  • SE489 AD IND STY IN SYS ENG/ENG MGMT
  • CS393 DATABASE SYSTEMS  
  • CS486 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 
  • CY300 PROGRAMMING FUNDAMENTALS 
  • MA388 SABERMETRICS 
  • MA478 GENERALIZED LINEAR MODELS 
  • SE370 COMPUTER AIDED SYSTEMS ENG
  • CS384 DATA STRUCTURES 
  • CS393 DATABASE SYSTEMS 
  • CS486 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE  
  • CY300 PROGRAMMING FUNDAMENTALS 
  • CY460 CYBER POLICY, STRATEGY, & OPNS 
  • MA372 INTRODUCTION TO DISCRETE MATH 
  • MA394 FUNDAMENTALS/NETWORK SCIENCE 
  • MA461 GRAPH THEORY AND NETWORK
  • CY300 PROGRAMMING FUNDAMENTALS 
  • SE485 COMBAT MODELING 
  • SM484 SYSTEM DYNAMICS SIMULATION
  • EM381 ENGINEERING ECONOMY 
  • MG410 MANAGERIAL FINANCE 
  • SS368 ECONOMETRICS I 
  • SS382 MICROECONOMICS 
  • SS388 MACROECONOMICS 
  • SS469 ECONOMETRICS II

This major offers an honors track. 

To learn more, view the full Operations Research Major Curriculum.

Cadets who choose this major have the opportunity to publish in journals like Mathematica Militaris, become a member of the Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society, Alpha Zeta Chapter, and work with the mathematical science center as they conduct summer internships/research at various laboratories and agencies. 

Other Honor Societies:
Golden Key - International Honour Society
Phi Kappa Phi - Oldest and Largest Collegiate Honor Society

To learn more about enrichment for this area of study, visit the Department of Mathematical Sciences or the Mathematical Sciences Center.