What's in a name?

Over the years, many people involved in Operational Research have agonised over the name of the profession.  To the insider, we know what it means - research into the operations of business, government, industry, commerce, armed forces, etc., etc.  To the outsider, it is obscure.  The landlady of some of my contemporaries as a graduate student remarked how pleased she was to see such nice people studying to do hospital operations. 

And then, across the Atlantic, the name is slightly different, to be Operations Research - fortunately with the same initials.  But those initials cause problems - search online for "OR" and that is a word which is ignored. 

So should we all be doing management science?  That name has its difficulties too.  For me it was once mistaken for the management of science projects.  There doesn't seem to be a simple answer.

Some techniques we use have wider recognition than our name.  A few years ago, there was a buzz that O.R. should have appropriated the concepts of information science, as that was rapidly growing field of job opportunity.  More recently, the same has been said about Analytics or Data Analytics.  (Analytics is not yet recognised by my spell-checker.)  Members of the UK O.R. Society have been sent an article about the growth of the discipline of Data Science.  Yes, we do that as O.R. people.  To emphasise the recognition of that discipline, outside an employment agency in Exeter this week there is a board with a vacancy for a "Senior Data Scientist".  I wonder if my C.V. with graduate experience in O.R. would get me an interview?


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