La Nova Scientia: Rewriting the History of Operational Research

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The accepted lore is that OR traces its roots back to the First and Second World Wars, when scientific research was used to improve military operations. However, the history of warfare is punctuated by attempts to apply some elements of quantitative analysis to understanding the causes of victory and defeat. An example of new military practices introduced in the sixteenth century are innovations adopted by Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, in the period between 1585--1625, which included systematising loading and firing of matchlock guns into forty-two sequential moves, so that soldiers could fire more rapidly and in unison; another example being the military use of gunpowder in Roberto Valturio's ``De Re Militari'' (1486). A natural question then arises: were military practitioners of the sixteenth century simply following common sense, or did some of them follow a principled, scientific approach akin to the one in use today? In this work I argue that Tartaglia's ``La Nova Scientia'' (1537) represents an exception and should be, in fact, regarded as one of the seminal works in the field of OR, intended as the systematic application of the methods of science to complex problems faced in military operations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2018
Event29th European Conference on Operational Research -, Valencia, Spain
Duration: 8 Jul 201811 Jul 2018


Conference29th European Conference on Operational Research
Abbreviated titleEURO 2018


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