IEOR Disciplines

The Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) at Columbia University is home to five disciplines:

  • Business Analytics,
  • Financial Engineering,
  • Industrial Engineering,
  • Management Science & Engineering, and
  • Operations Research.

The department is renowned for its excellence in research, practice, and academics.

Operations Research is an applied science that is concerned with quantitative decision problems that generally involve the allocation and control of limited resources. Such problems arise, for example, in the operations of industrial firms, financial institutions, health care organizations, transportation systems, energy and resources, and government.

An operations research analyst develops and uses mathematical and statistical models to help solve decision problems. Like engineers, they are problem formulators and solvers. Their work requires the formation of a mathematical model of a system and the analysis and prediction of the consequences of alternate modes of operating the system. The analysis may involve mathematical optimization techniques, probabilistic and statistical methods, experiments, and computer simulations. Operations Research courses have been offered at Columbia since 1952.

Business Analytics is a field that focuses on big data and business intelligence, bringing together topics such as Optimization, Programming, & statistics to solve real-world problems. Common positions in the field include analysts and associates in consulting firms, business analysts and data scientists in the fields of financial and professional services, technology, advertising and media, and other professions where a deep understanding and practical application of data analytics are required

Financial engineering is a dynamic and interdisciplinary field that combines mathematical and quantitative techniques with financial principles to conceive and craft innovative financial products, strategies, and solutions. Through the fusion of advanced mathematical and computational methods, along with the transformative capabilities of machine learning and artificial intelligence, financial engineering tackles intricate challenges within the realm of finance.

At its core, financial engineering aims to enhance financial decision-making, proficiently manage risk, and generate value for individuals, businesses, and institutions navigating the complexities of financial markets. This field thrives on ingenuity and analytical problem-solving, addressing diverse needs across sectors like asset management, banking, hedge funds, private equity, insurance, financial technology/services, and consulting.

Industrial Engineering is concerned with the design, analysis, and control of production and service operations and systems. In the past, an industrial engineer worked in a manufacturing plant and was involved with the operating efficiency of workers and machines. Today, industrial engineers are more broadly concerned with productivity and all of the technical problems of production management and control. They work in various branches of companies: manufacturing, distribution, transportation, mercantile, and service. Their responsibilities range from the design of unit operations to controlling complete production and service systems. They integrate the physical, financial, economic, and human components of such systems to attain specified goals. Industrial engineering includes tasks like production planning and control; quality control; inventory, equipment, warehouse, and materials management; plant layout; and job and work station design. Industrial engineering programs have an illustrious history at Columbia, with the program starting in 1919 and the first class graduating in 1922.

Management Science & Engineering emphasizes both technology and management perspectives in solving problems, making decisions, and managing risks in complex systems. It provides rigorous exposure to deterministic optimization and stochastic modeling, basic coverage of applications in the areas of operations engineering and management, and in-depth coverage of applications in the areas of your selected concentration. Graduates from this program usually take on positions as business analysts in logistics, supply chain, revenue management; as consultants; and as financial analysts in risk management departments of investment banks, hedge funds, and credit card and insurance firms.