Modeling vs. Proving

I just finished my first long test in our introductory course in operations research. Assuming that I didn’t fail the test, I think that I barely passed it. I did commit some careless mistakes but the part of the test which took my time my was the modeling / problem formulation part, which is anything but trivial. Still, I find myself liking modeling than proving theorems.

During my undergraduate years, we spent a great deal of time proving theorems here and there. I didn’t know to what extent does pure math courses deal with proofs until I encountered Advanced Calculus, where proofs spanning at least a page are not uncommon. During that semester, I actually found the electromagnetism course in physics more enjoyable than the math classes.

I realized that I like applied topics more than theory. That’s why when I learned about operations research, I naturally migrated to the field (quantitative finance was another major option). Perhaps because it’s more practical — should I ever work for the corporate world, I may be given the task of, say, modeling the supply chain.

More importantly, I find modeling, a key aspect of operations research, to be an art. Although the same thing can be said about pure math, I think that modeling is closer to the traditional meaning of art, i.e. a representation (in terms of mathematical symbols, in this case) of an existing phenomenon.

I did suck on that first long test but it’s not a major issue anyway. It’s still a long way before I become skilled in mathematical modeling, and in particular, optimization modeling.

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53 Responses to Modeling vs. Proving

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    hi, i’m a practicing OR Analyst. how are you finding your MS in OR Sso far? where are you taking it btw? 🙂 been contemplating in getting my master’s soon…

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