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Like no other discipline, Operations Research (OR) depends on the active interaction between theory and practice. This is immediately incurred by the object of research: the analysis of a problem and the preparation of optimal decisions in companies with scientific methods from mathematics, informatics and economics.

The relatively young research area of Operations Research has its roots in the 1940s. It is aligned with an interdisciplinary character and recently serves as an important function on the interface between economics and engineering, as well as between economics and natural sciences. Numerous new developments and advancements of quantitative methods have led to new application areas of OR especially over the last years.

Three important pillars in OR are the field of discrete methods of OR with applications in logistics, supply chain management and health care management, the field of continuous methods in OR with applications in waste minimization, worst-case analysis, parameter fitting and game theory, and the field of stochastic methods of OR with applications in revenue management, the evaluation of operating risks in the context of Basel II, statistical process control and the optimization of waiting systems.

Since 2009, these three pillars of OR are represented in the Faculty for Economics and Industrial Engineering by the joint Institute of Operations Research. Since 2015 they are complemented by a fourth pillar which treats the complete and efficient information retrieval from very large data sets by statistical methods. Recognition of structures in these data and the reduction of their complexity subsequently permit optimization of data driven decision processes.

The joint institute allows strong synergy effects in research, teaching, public relations and cooperation with external partners. The main branches of OR are clearly addressed by the focus of the institute's chairs.