Vol. 78, No. 12, December
Definitions of Operational Research (OR) Terms
Cognitive mapping _ visual depictions of personal beliefs and
values that are created by interviewing an individual about a specific
issue. It is a problem structuring tool. Cognitive maps are
"hierarchical" chains of arguments that reflect possible actions and
outcomes. By using specialized computer software, these maps can be
analyzed to identify the true interrelationships between decision
choices that are typically not obvious to an individual.
Queuing Theory, also known as the theory of waiting lines,
relates to the statistical modeling of probability distributions to
determine random arrival rates over a period of time. It has been used,
for example, in planning the number of tellers in banks based on
predicted arrival rates of customers, and also in emergency departments
to predict arrival rates of patients.
Simulations are visual computer models of a system that
incorporate quantitative aspects of the various components within the
system. Simulation allows testing the impact on a system's overall
function and outcome of various decisions by changing individual
components in a system. It has been used to evaluate patient flow within
hospitals and to test the impact of decisions to change staffing levels
on the efficiency of the hospital and outcome of patients.