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    Definitions of Operational Research Terms

    Quantitative methodology diagrams

    Daniel BlinkaRamesh Sachdeva

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 78, No. 12, December 2005

    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.

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