In a nutshell, operational research (O.R.) is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions.

By using techniques such as problem structuring methods (sometimes known as 'Soft O.R.') and mathematical modelling to analyse complex situations, operational research gives executives the power to make more effective decisions and build more productive systems based on:

  • More complete data
  • Consideration of all available options
  • Careful predictions of outcomes and estimates of risk
  • The latest decision tools and techniques

Once a good or better way of proceeding has been identified, OR people are often central to the implementation of the proposed change.

Organisations may seek a very wide range of operational improvements - for example, greater efficiency, better customer service, higher quality or lower cost. Whatever the business engineering aim, OR can offer the flexibility and adaptability to provide objective help.

Most of the problems OR tackles are messy and complex, often entailing considerable uncertainty. OR can use advanced quantitative methods, modelling, problem structuring, simulation and other analytical techniques to examine assumptions, facilitate an in -depth understanding and decide on practical action.

Visit the Learn About OR channel on YouTube to see videos of examples of where O.R. is used and careers information.

Bin Packing Game

This exciting new bin packing game and accompanying teaching resources introduce a range of mathematical concepts including:

  • Area
  • Number Bonds
  • Percentages
  • Algorithms (First Fit; First Fit Decreasing)
  • Probability
  • Simulation
  • Combinatorics

Bin Packing Game

Users are immersed into the role of a baggage handler, such as those found in airports, demonstrating one of many examples of how O.R. can be found making a real difference in everyday life.


Derrick Newton: game concept
Rasseeda Virgo, student at Coventry University: game concept and level development
Andrew Long, O.R. Consultant: game concept and level development
Chris Robbins, Grallator: game and level development, coding, mathematical and statistical analyses and production of learning resources
Jenny Egerton, Mythillogical: graphics







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