What do you call yourself if you optimize/automate decisions (and why)? Ops researcher? Engineer? Data scientist?

There are a lot of terms out there that get used to describe people in the decision optimization/automation community: operations researcher, developer, data scientist, ML/AI ops analyst, decision scientist, etc. What title or descriptor do you use and why?

I always dread this question a little bit when I meet new people. Half the time the conversation goes like:

“Have you ever heard of Operations Research? No? OK, it all started in the 1930s or 1940s, depending on which tradition you come from. I learned in the US so our great great grand-pappy was this fellow named George B. Dantzig, who inspired a scene from Good Will Hunting. Anyway, imagine you have some system…”

The problem is that the field is so poorly named and it has such a rich and fascinating history. It’s hard not to monologue – I once gave this talk to a customs agent who promptly shooed me through the gate just to get me to stop.

The rest of the time I demur and say I am a computer programmer. This invariable leads to further digging and cues up the same social trap.

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@ryan I can relate :smiley:

What I usually do when being asked what I do, I try to find out what the other person does (if I don’t already know) and give an example of operations research being applied in their field or something they might get in touch with through hobbies, etc. If all fails, most people went to school at some point in their lives and I try to explain in vivid colors how hard it was for someone at their school to come up with the timetable for everyone.

I consider myself a mix of operation researcher and software developer. Depending on the situation I respond with one or the other when asked :slight_smile: