Operational research, or operations research (to use the American term), describes the application of specialised quantitative techniques to solving problems met in industry, in commerce and in administration. For many years separate statistical and mathematical methods had been used to guide decision-making in these fields, but it was the impetus of the Second World War in Great Britain and America that began to bring together teams of mathematicians, statisticians, psychologists, physicists and other scientists to tackle problems demanding over-all strategies of enquiry and application. Calculations of manpower and material needed to land and maintain combatant forces on hostile territory and of civilian food requirements in a siege economy were two examples of the fields in which operational research developed. Peaceful applications have been made in most countries of the world on lines described in the remaining chapters of this book.
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