Operations Research and Six Sigma?

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    A colleague of mine was talking about “Operations Research” as a career path & college curriculum that was popular years ago, but noted that you don’t hear much about it anymore. Listening to him describe it, it sounded an awful lot like Six Sigma. Does anyone else have an opinion on the differences & similarities of Operations Research and Six Sigma?



    Operations Research uses a lot of mathematical modeling techniques with the goal being to achieve optimization. Six sigma is primarily targetted towards variance reduction and is narrower in scope than Operations Research. Six Sigma mostly revolves around methodologies like DMAIC, DMADV etc. Operations Research involves a lot of mathematical modeling techniques like , linear/nonlinear/integer programming, dynamic programming, simulation optimization etc, to say the least. Each technique in itself is broad, different from other techniques with respect to the application and problem circumstance. Since OR deals with a lot of optimization, development of efficient algorithms in order to get the optimization results faster is a vital factor. Hence the field of computer science plays a crucial role in the advancement of Operations Research techniques.
    I could say that both Six Sigma and Operations Research go hand in hand. You could use six sigma to reduce variation in your process and then use operations research tools to optimize your system for a particular set of control factors.
    Last but not the least, you will find an expert in six-sigma, but you probably will never find an expert in Operations Research.
    Hope this helps.

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