Re Solutions

27 December 2011
The meaning of the mean
3 January 2012

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.