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27 December 2011
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3 January 2012
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In this time of New Year resolutions I will post re solutions. ;)*
In mathematics the solution is the answer.

Examples:

  • x=42.
  • Theta is 57 degrees.
  • The price has increased by 15%.

In statistics a solution provides something we can be reasonably sure of.

Examples:

  • We are 95% confident that the price of a house increases by between $5,000 and $7,000 for each extra bathroom, all other things being equal.
  • The margin of error is 3 percent.
  • There is evidence that more men prefer milk chocolate than dark chocolate.

What is called a solution in operations research could be called an alternative, which is not necessarily optimal, practical or even feasible. There can be infinite solutions. Finding a solution is a step towards solving the problem. We do great things in The Science of Better, but a solution is only a start.

Examples:

  • We should order flour every 2.3 days.
  • There should be five servers operating.
  • A possible location for the hospital is in a new satellite town.

In all disciplines teachers need to make the language of the discipline clear.
Students need to watch for the specialised use of language in a discipline. Assuming you know what a term means, because it is a familiar term,  can cause confusion.
* The OR blog challenge for January was OR Resolutions. This is the best I could think of. It’s our summer holidays here.

2 Comments

  1. […] There are problems with the term “problem” and even greater problems with the word “solution.” In Operations Research a solution is nothing like an everyday solution. It doesn’t even have to […]

  2. […] in red ticks as he knew how much I liked them. In mathematics there was one correct answer. (See my post on Re:Solutions). You had to find x, and when you found it you knew you had the right one. This is SO not true in […]

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