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I am interested in manufacturing economics - suppose I have to built an engine, I would like to learn a systematic approach to break down what the costs of building an engine would be and how I could eventually optimize the process. I am a complete beginner to this, and I would like to learn from a resource that is not math-heavy (but not totally void of it!) which prioritizes intuition and is generic enough to be applicable to many different scenarios (not just engines!).

The reason is I often hear people talk of fixed costs, variable costs, production costs, amortization, etc. I would just like to learn more about it to be able to "follow the discussion".

What good books could you recommend on this? I could not find any myself.

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I think you are referring to Optimization, which is taught in both engineering, math, computer science, biology, and economics. In engineering, it's taught in a general course on Linear programming, and in economics it would be taught in a class like Operations Research. For both courses, I believe the standard introductory text these days is Winston, Wayne L. (2004), Operations Research: Applications and Algorithms (4th Edition). You'll need to have a background in linear algebra to digest this book.

But there is a ton of stuff on Youtube that will probably suffice. Google "Linear Programming". Once you understand the basic principles of the Simplex Method, you can simply download some free software like LINDO or use Excel, and you'll cover 99% of the needs of most mere mortals.

You can also find good courses on Coursera.

That being said, Optimization can get very complicated and require courses in advanced linear algebra and calculus. For example, convex optimization is taught in many universities, but at the graduate level or in pure Mathematics. See http://stanford.edu/~boyd/teaching.html for a taste of what some engineers work on when they build very complex "machines".

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