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DEA (Data Envelopment Analysis) is a mathematical programming based method to measure empirically the efficiency and productivity of operating units using multiple inputs to secure multiple outputs. Typically the inputs and the output are incommensurate.

It was originally developed by Charnes, Cooper, Rhodes (1978) for constant returns to scale (CRS) technologies and was extended later by Banker, Charnes, Cooper(1984) to cover variable returns to scale (VRS) technologies. Since 1978 thousands of articles, books and dissertations have been published and DEA models have rapidly been extended to cover non increasing or non decreasing returns to scale, dummy or categorical variables, discretionary and non-discretionary variables, incorporating value judgments, longitudinal analysis, stochastic DEA, Malmquist indices of productivity chnage,and many other topics.

DEA has been used in a variety of contexts. For example it has been used to evaluate and compare educational departments (schools, colleges and universities), health care units (hospitals, clinics) prisons, agricultural production units (farms), banks, sports teams, market research, transportation (highway maintenance, groups, railways), courts, among other applications.

If you are new to DEA, you could familiarise yourself with the basic concepts of DEA by reading:

Thanassoulis, E (2001), Introduction to the Theory and Application of Data Envelopment Analysis: A Foundation Text with Integrated Software, Please note that the software integrated in this book is Warwick DEA Software, a pre-cursor to PIMsoft V3. For further information about this book click here.

For more recent developments in DEA see:

Thanassoulis E., Portela Maria C. S., and Despić O. (2008) DEA – The Mathematical Programming Approach to Efficiency Analysis, in The Measurement of Productive Efficiency and Productivity Growth, (Hal Fried, Knox Lovell and Shelton Schmidt editors ) Oxford University Press. ISBN -10= 0195183525 and ISBN-13= 9780195183528

Information about DEA and its application can also be found at:

Ali Emrouznejad's Data Envelopment Analysis Homepage ( http://www.deazone.com/ )

Also full bibliography of DEA is available at:

Emrouznejad, A. Parker, B. and G. Tavares (2008): Evaluation of research in efficiency and productivity: A survey and analysis of the first 30 years of scholarly literature in DEA, Journal of Socio-Economics Planning Science, 42(3) 151-157. Download Part 1 & Download Part 2