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.