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Welcome to the Operations Research Department

Operations Research (OR) originated during World War II as a response to tactical problems relating to the efficient operation of weapon systems, and to operational problems relating to the deployment and employment of military forces. OR has evolved since then to a full-scale scientific discipline that is practiced widely by analysts in industry, government and the military.

OR is the science of helping people and organizations make better decisions. More formally, it is the development and application of mathematical models, statistical analyses, simulations, analytical reasoning and common sense to the understanding and improvement of real-world operations. Improvement can be measured by the minimization of cost, maximization of efficiency, or optimization of other relevant measures of effectiveness.

The military uses OR at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. OR improves decision making and facilitates insights into the phenomena of combat. OR applications cover the gamut of military activities including: national policy analysis, resource allocation, force composition and modernization, logistics, human resources (recruiting, retention, promotion, training and personnel assignment), battle planning, flight operations scheduling, intelligence, command and control, weapon selection (weapon system effectiveness, cost, compatibility and operability), engagement tactics (fire control, maneuver, target selection, and battle damage assessment), maintenance and replenishment, and search and rescue.

The Naval Postgraduate School's Operations Research Department offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. It is one of the oldest, largest, and highest ranking OR departments in the US. It is without peer in terms of the extent to which graduate education is integrated with a commitment to solving real military problems. Our students and faculty use the latest mathematical modeling ideas and computing technology to penetrate deeply into the analysis of important real-world problems. Analysis is a key word; NPS operations researchers frequently influence decisions and serve as agents for change.

The military specifically uses OR at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. OR applications cover the gamut of military activities including: national policy analysis, resource allocation, force composition and modernization, logistics, human resources, battle planning, flight operations scheduling, intelligence, command and control, weapon selection, engagement tactics, maintenance and replenishment, and search and rescue.

The OR Mission

  •  to educate analysts who are fully capable of conducting independent analytical studies of military problems, and to provide an educational basis for continued learning and development;
  • to develop and maintain a world class research program in operations research and related areas;
  • to provide operations research and general analysis support to DOD.

"The OR you learn at NPS will make you a better ship driver, pilot, NFO, infantry officer or tanker. It changes the way you evaluate complex, uncertain situations. You will use it every day and in every job, as I have."

--VADM Ron Route, USN
Naval Inspector General
NPS OR M.S. '76

The OR Department is Recruiting!

Interview with Distinguished Professor Emeritus Donald P. Gaver

See the interview with Distinguished Professor Emeritus Donald P. Gaver on the INFORMS site, or read the transcript here.

2014 Richard W. Hamming Award Goes to Prof. Susan Sanchez

We are very honored to announce that Dr. Susan M. Sanchez, Professor in the Department of Operations Research in the Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences, with a joint appointment in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, and Co-director of the Simulation Experiments and Efficient Design (SEED) Center for Data Farming has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Richard W. Hamming Faculty Award for Interdisciplinary Achievement. Congratulations to Prof. Sanchez!

2013 Hamming Award Goes to Prof. Ronald Fricker

Prof. Ronald Fricker has been awarded the 2013 Richard Hamming Annual Faculty Award for Achievement in Teaching. Professor Fricker excelled in all three criteria for the Hamming Award: outstanding teaching, excellence in thesis supervision, and strength of contribution to NPS students beyond the classroom. Congratulations to Prof. Fricker!

Professor Don Gaver to receive J. Steinhardt Prize

Congratulations to Don Gaver on being selected to receive the J. Steinhardt Prize.

The prize will be presented by the INFORMS Military Applications Section at the Fall INFORMS meeting.  The prize is for “outstanding contributions to Military Operations Research and is awarded for life work rather than for any particular contribution.”  Past awardees include Jack Borsting, Wayne Hughes, Dave Schrady, and Al Washburn.

Special Session for Peter A.W. Lewis

A Celebration of the Statistical Career of Peter A.W. Lewis

OR Professor Nita Shattuck interviewed by Navy Times

This article first appeared in the Navy Times.

Congratulations 2013 MORS Award winner!

LCDR Phillip Mogilevsky, USN – Optimizing Transportation of Disaster Relief Material to Support U.S. Pacific Command Foreign Humanitarian Assistance Operations


The OR Department has a new Center--the Center for Infrastructure Defense. Learn about it here!


Your Town hosted by CAPT Jeff Kline
See interviews with distinguished OR Professors

OR Seminar Schedule

The OR Department is recruiting!

"I think that the operations research curriculum that I went through is one that's very relevant to what we do in the Navy. ...I've used it in three significant tours in the Pentagon. I've also used it at sea and war fighting. What the curriculum taught me to do was to properly frame a problem, ask the right questions, to assess risk and to move on from there."

--Admiral Michael G. Mullen, USN, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
NPS OR M.S. '85


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