The objective of management science is to solve the decision-making problems that confront and confound managers in both the public and the private sector by developing mathematical models of those problems. These models have traditionally been solved with various mathematical techniques, all of which lend themselves to specific types of problems. Thus, management science as a field of study has always been inherently mathematical in nature, and as a result sometimes complex and rigorous . When I began writing the first edition of this book in 1979, my main goal was to make these mathematical topics seem less complex and thus more palatable to undergraduate business students. To achieve this goal I started out by trying to provide simple, straightforward explanations of often difficult mathematical topics. I tried to use lots of examples that demonstrated in detail the fundamental mathematical steps of the modeling and solution techniques. Although in the last two and a half decades the emphasis in management science has shifted away from strictly mathematical to mostly computer solutions, my objective has not changed. I have provided clear, concise explanations of the techniques used in management science to model problems, and provided lots of examples of how to solve these models on the computer, while still including some of the fundamental mathematics of the techniques.
The stuff of management science can seem abstract, and students sometimes have trouble perceiving the usefulness of quantitative courses in general. I remember when I was a student I could not foresee how I would use such mathematical topics (in addition to a lot of the other things I learned in college) in any job after graduation. Part of the problem is that the examples used in books often do not seem realistic. Unfortunately, examples must be made simple to facilitate the learning process. Larger, more complex examples reflecting actual applications would be too complex to help the student learn the modeling technique. The modeling techniques presented in this text are, in fact, used extensively in the business world and their use is increasing rapidly because of computer and information technology. Therefore, the chances of students using the modeling techniques that they learn from this text in a future job are very great indeed.
Even if these techniques are not used on the job, the logical approach to problem solving embodied in management science is valuable for all types of jobs in all types of organizations. Management science consists of more than just a collection of mathematical modeling techniques; it embodies a philosophy of approaching a problem in a logical manner, as does any science. Thus, this text not only teaches specific techniques but also provides a very useful method for approaching problems.
My primary objective throughout all revisions of this text is readability. The modeling techniques presented in each chapter are explained with straightforward examples that avoid lengthy written explanations. These examples are organized in a logical step-by-step fashion that the student can subsequently apply to the Problems at the end of each chapter. I have tried to avoid complex mathematical notation and formulas wherever possible. These various factors will, I hope, help make the material more interesting and less intimidating to students.