Operations Research (OR) answers questions such as: How should I, as a factory floor manager, manage inventory levels in my storage area so as to be able to satisfy uncertain demand on average without spending an excessive amount of money on on-hand inventory? Where should I, as a city planner, consider placing new facilities (such as schools, post offices and libraries) in a town so that they are within an acceptable distance from most inhabitants? How can I, as a floor manager, design an efficient production schedule for a factory? How can I, as a financial portfolio manager, construct a portfolio of investments that maximises expected return, while managing risk at acceptable levels?
The slogan of operations research is “The Science of Better”. An operations researcher follows a scientific approach to suggest methods of improving real-life problems such as the above, and uses techniques that typically overlap with mathematics, statistics and computer science to calculate best or optimal solutions. OR is a powerful tool in the hands of decision-makers and managers, since it allows them to make high-quality decisions that are scientifically justified. Such decisions may be found in, for example, factories, businesses, banks, mining, the construction industry, agriculture, ecology and consulting environments.
Our former students work for banks and insurance companies, at production plants (such as factories, saw mills or depots, at chain stores, at government departments and parastatals (such as the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, or members of the Transnet group), at research institutions such as the CSIR, or as private consultants. Good training in operations research will enable a person to comfortably operate as a member of a planning group in a company or a consulting firm. It also makes career opportunities such as management positions possible.
Please consult the official Economic and Management Sciences Yearbook for more information regarding subject combinations and requirements.