Management Science I: Optimization & Multicriteria Methods


Units: 6


This course, along with its companions (90-760 Management Science II, and an optional elective 94-833 Multicriteria Decision Making & Decision Analysis) are introductory courses in analytics and management science that survey a variety of hands-on quantitative and modeling methods useful to decision makers and analysts. We will develop a practical toolkit for solving real world decision-making problems.

90-722 focuses on optimization models and methods. Optimization models provide a quantitative framework to guide decisions when you want to maximize (or minimize) some outcome, subject to various requirements. This applies to nearly any industry, such as:

  • booking patients for surgery to minimize wait times under schedule constraints,
  • ordering raw supply quantities to minimize manufacturing cost under demand constraints, or
  • allocating ventilators across hospital systems to minimize deaths under transportation constraints.

By the end of the class, you will be able to take real problems such as these, translate them into mathematical formulations, solve them using Excel, and interpret the solutions. This skill will be a significant asset on the job market and in your career.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Management Science course sequence, students will be able to…

  • Model and solve quantitative problems in Excel – working with spreadsheets should feel second nature!
  • Identify the right management science technique for your problem. You will become familiar with different problem-solving approaches and their limitations. Even if you aren’t the one implementing them day-to-day, you’ll know when to call upon the right specialists and consultants when the occasion arises.
  • Apply management science techniques as an “end user modeler.”
  • Take an end-to-end quantitative analytical approach to policy and business problems – from formalizing a problem in mathematical terms to analyzing the model results. In short, you should be able to use the language of mathematical modeling.

In 90-722 specifically, the main “management science” technique that we will employ is optimization. So, by the end of this mini, you will have achieved these ILOs in the context of modeling and solving optimization problems.

Prerequisites Description

This course has no formal pre-requisites but assumes knowledge of college pre-calculus (or its equivalent), including summation notation and fluency graphing and interpreting linear and nonlinear functions. The course uses Excel intensively. If you are not comfortable with Excel, you should work through some Excel tutorials before the course begins.