Operations Management 33:623:386:06 -- Spring 2010
All class policies subject to change at instructor's discretion.
Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:40-3:00PM
Usually Beck 252
- On January 21 and March 25 only, we will instead meet in the Levin 005
computer lab. Since the class is about 20 students larger than the lab, we
will have to split the lab class into two shifts. Students with last
names starting A-K should attend at the usual 1:40PM time; those with last
names L-Z should arrive at 2:20.
Office: 255 J. H. Levin Building, Livingston Campus
Telephone: (732) 445-0510; also (732) 445-3272 for urgent calls.
- Tentatively Mondays 2:30-4:00PM and Wednesdays 2:30-4:30PM.
- These times may be changed if they are not convenient for most students.
- Changes to the normal office hour schedule (for exams,
holidays, instructor schedule conflicts, travel, etc.) will be announced on the class mailing list and
Text: There is only one text, a course pack called "Operations
Management" from University Publishing Solutions.
First meeting: Tuesday, January 19, 2010.
Final exam: Monday, May 10, 12-3 PM; room(s) to be
Other Sections: There are seven sections of Operations Management this
semester, with essentially identical topic coverage and student workload.
All sections will take the same final exam, which will be jointly written and
graded by the four instructors.
The core of this course is a mathematical way of approaching planning and
decision-making problems arising in business and related areas. This "mindset" is called
Science (MS) or Operations Research (OR).
Basically, the MS/OR approach involves forming (imperfect) mathematical
models of business situations, analyzing these models, and then deciding
on some "optimal" course of action. A key concept in this approach
is to separate the analysis of a decision problem into two steps, first
mathematical modeling, and then solution of the resulting abstract model. In this class, we will
focus on the modeling process, and leave solution of the model up to standard computer software.
There are two key ideas in applying MS/OR: the first is modeling decision
making and planning as a mathematical optimization problem with variables, and
objective function, and constraints. The second is to model uncertainty
using the tools of probability theory. We will spend the first 15 regular
classes exploring the first idea, and the last 10 regular classes exploring the
second. We will cover a relatively small set of subtopics in each case,
but try to explore them in depth so you get a better feeling for the modeling
process. Note that optimization and stochastic models can be combined much
more closely than we attempt in this course, but that is a more advanced topic
(called stochastic programming)
MS/OR is most helpful in situations where quantitative information is
plentiful and there are relatively few intangible or psychological considerations,
making it easier to produce accurate mathematical models. It is also particularly
beneficial when the decision or planning situation is complex, making it
hard for managers to simply "eyeball" the decision or "fly by the seat
of their pants." Such situations arise most at the operational
level of the management hierarchy, and progressively less at the
higher levels (tactical and strategic), although they are still useful there. Hence the application to operations
management. "Operations management" courses at many other schools may
deal more with qualitative generalities of managing business operations;
this course basically focuses on the key quantitative tools.
Attendance: I do not take formal attendance, and attendance has no
direct affect on your grade. My view is that you are supposed to be
adults, and if you can learn that material without my help, I will not be
personally offended. However, I do informally monitor attendance, and most
students find regular attendance essential to performing well in the
class. Also, if you don't come to class, please don't come to office hours
with questions about the material I discussed there. In severe weather, please check the
class website -- if at all
possible, I will post any class cancellation or schedule change information
there as soon as I can. You can also monitor the Rutgers
main website, WCTC AM 1450, or Rutgers INFO
AM 530 for possible university closing information.
E-Mail List: I will occasionally use Rutgers' RAMS mail system to
post important information such as class cancellations or homework problem corrections and hints.
I expect you to check your e-mail regularly for class announcements -- it will be your
responsibility if you miss any of them. RAMS uses whatever e-mail Rutgers has on file for you, which is usually your "eden"
e-mail account. If you prefer to receive e-mail at another address, you
must do one of the following two things.
Questions: Unless you have skipped class, questions are strongly encouraged during class,
during office hours, and via e-mail.
Exams: There will be two in-class midterm exams and a final. All
exams will be closed book. I usually allow you to consult one two-sided sheet of
notes in your own handwriting in each midterm, and two such sheets in the
final. The final will be "cumulative", covering all topics in the course.
Homework: I am planning on 11 homework assignments. Typically, homework
assignments will be handed out on Thursday, and due in class the following
Thursday. There is
zero credit for late homework (although I may
make exceptions in documented cases of genuine medical or family
emergency). I will drop your lowest two assignment scores in computing your
overall homework performance, with late or missing assignments counting as
a score of zero. This policy effectively allows you to skip one or two homework
without penalty. However, I would definitely recommend
against skipping a homework early in the term, or planning in advance to skip
more than one homework. Most homework problems
will involve computer work.
Collaboration and Cheating: You are allowed to seek or give
help to other students on homework assignments. However, although there
is no formal penalty for copying homework, I have found it
critical for the learning process that you work through the problems
yourself (especially on the computer) and hand in your own work. Otherwise, you will probably "crash and
burn" on the exams.
collaboration of any kind is permitted on exams.
Computers: All software needed for this course is installed
in the computer lab in the Levin building basement. You may also use other
university computer clusters, or your own computers. If Solver does not appear
on the "Tools" menu in Excel, you may have to go to
"Add-ins..." and check the box marked "Solver". If
Solver is not installed on your own computer, you can install it from the Microsoft
Office CD-ROM (you are out of luck if you don't have the installation CD-ROM). On
computers outside the Levin lab, you will probably have to download the YASAI add-in
from its website.
Textbooks and related material: There is only one text, a course
pack called "Operations Management" from University Publishing Solutions.
There is a new edition this semester, containing a number of error and typo
corrections. Used copies from Spring 2005 or later are also acceptable,
although you will not have the benefit of the most recent corrections.
Additional course notes for most classes will be available under
"resources" on the Sakai
site, usually shortly after each class; these are essentially the same notes
that I lecture from, and may eventually be assembled into a more conventional
- Bringing Books to Class: Bring the course pack to all classes,
Grading: No letter grades are assigned to individual assignments
or exams, only numeric scores from 0 to 100. Your course letter grade will be
based on your aggregate score, combining your scores on all
written class work with following weights:
20% First midterm
20% Second midterm
20% Homework (excluding your two worst scores)
If your final exam score is higher than the lower of your two midterm scores, then the final counts 50%, and
the lower midterm only 10%
I then rank students according to these aggregate scores, and assign grades
by class rank, placing the boundaries between grades where it makes the most
subjective sense for the current class and semester.
Thus, the grades for all your class work are jointly "curved" once at the
end of the course; there are no "curves" for individual assignments or
exams. In the past,
getting an above-average grade (A or B+) in the class requires doing at least 9 of the 11
homework assignments and having an above-average aggregate homework score, while
getting a suitably above-average grade
on at least two of the three exams. I reserve the right to make
changes to the grade calculation scheme. For further
information, see my "how I grade" page.
The homework assignments are a significant amount
of work, and I sometimes get complaints that they count for so little a
percentage of the grade. Regrettably, I have run into problems in the
past when I have placed more emphasis on homework in the grading scheme.
Do not count on high homework scores to boost your
overall grade. You can certainly seriously damage your course letter grade by poor or
missing homework assignments, or in some cases slip down a grade by having
below-average homework. On the other hand, as a general rule, you will
probably only be
able to lift your class rank a small amount through above-average homework.
For 10 classes, we will study a variety of applications of something called linear
programming. We will spend 5 classes on a related topic called
(mixed) integer programming. Finally, we will spend 10
classes on elementary probability modeling, using simulation as our main
analytical tool. There are two in-class exams, and the last class of the
semester will be a review session for the final exam.
Detailed schedule, subject to change: