Operations research is by nature an interdisciplinary field. It has its origins in World War II when scientists, engineers, and mathematicians were asked to develop ways to make the most effective use of limited military resources. Since then, operations research has had a major impact on improving the efficiency of business and government. The discipline has been widely applied to help decision makers allocate scarce resources and to solve problems involving design, allocation, planning, and logistics.
The faculty represented in the program work on a variety of research problems, from the theoretical to the applied. Recent faculty research interests include combinatorial optimization, linear and nonlinear programming, network optimization and synthesis, Boolean functions, integer programming, dynamic programming, graph theory, matroid theory, and artificial intelligence and expert systems. Other faculty members are studying mathematical models of social and policy problems, measurement theory, utility and decision making, social choice, game theory, computational complexity, queuing theory, stochastic processes and stochastic optimization, competitive bidding, statistical decision theory, design and analysis of surveys, random algorithms, economics of uncertainty, natural resources, numerical analysis, simulation, reliability theory, production analysis, inventory theory, scheduling, performance analysis, system theory, dynamic systems, and optimal-control problems.
The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) program in operations research emphasizes both the theory and the practice of operations research. Doctoral students are exposed to theoretical and computational aspects of operations research and to its applications. They also are expected to specialize by taking a series of courses chosen to complement their individual strengths and interests. Students are encouraged to get involved in the research activities of Rutgers Center for Operations Research (RUTCOR).
Specific features of the Ph.D. program in operations research include a strong research orientation and emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of operations research. Many students are authors or coauthors of research reports presented at major conferences and published in internationally circulated journals. The program has a curriculum and faculty drawn from several disciplines. Students are encouraged to take courses from other departments in the mathematical sciences, engineering, business, and other subjects. The program is strong, particularly in optimization theory, discrete and stochastic operations research, and logical analysis of data. Additional applications to science, engineering, and finance are being developed.
Students pursuing studies leading to the master of science (M.S.) degree in operations research prepare for positions in industry and government that apply methods of operations research to practical problems. Students in the M.S. program are encouraged to take as many practically oriented interdisciplinary operations research courses as possible and to participate in various operations research programs at RUTCOR that are aimed at industrial and government applications.
The major requirements for the Ph.D. involve coursework (48 credits), research work (24 credits), a Ph.D. qualifying examination, and a dissertation. There also is a seminar requirement.
The major requirements for the M.S. involve coursework (30 credits), an essay, and a final examination. The essay can be expository, or it may involve the development of new theoretical results, software, computer implementation of algorithms, modeling, or a related topic. There also is a seminar requirement.
A wide variety of courses related to operations research are given by the programs participating in RUTCOR and other departments at the university. In addition, students in the Ph.D. and M.S. programs may sign up for independent study courses for credit toward the 48-credit or 30-credit requirements. All students are expected to participate extensively in RUTCOR's seminars and colloquia.
Admission to the M.S. and Ph.D. programs is awarded selectively by the admissions committee. Applicants to the M.S. program should have an undergraduate degree in a field related to operations research. Applicants to the Ph.D. program should have either a bachelor's or a master's degree in one of these fields. Both programs, which are intended to be small, are aimed at a high-quality group of students. Applications should include transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and scores from the Graduate Record Examination. A subject test in a field related to operations research is recommended but not necessary. Foreign students should supply a score on the TOEFL. The official deadline for application is March 1, although this deadline is waived whenever possible for qualified students.
Students entering the programs in operations research are expected to have knowledge of undergraduate probability, statistics, advanced calculus, linear algebra, and introductory computer science.
Financial support for graduate study in operations research at Rutgers is coordinated through RUTCOR. Students are supported through teaching, graduate, and research assistantships in the participating departments of RUTCOR or in RUTCOR itself, research on faculty members' research projects, fellowships, and adjunct teaching jobs. Applications for financial support should be included with the application for admission. They are due by March 1 for the following academic year (beginning in September). Late applications for financial support are accepted as long as support is available.