Fully heuristic timetabling driven by students' feedback on availability Conference Paper uri icon


  • The optimal schedule of lectures and exams is critical in higher education institutions. But it is a very time consuming task for those who are in charge of planning academic activities. For this reason, a considerable attention has been devoted to automated timetabling. Because timetabling solutions are highly dependent on the way institutions are organized, it is common that each institution develops its own platform. At the Instituto Politécnico de Bragança we have evaluated several existent solutions but we have concluded that no particular solution fulfills the totality of our requirements. That leads us to the development of a new platform in order to handle all constraints we consider relevant and to incorporate all knowledge we have accumulated from manually scheduling lectures for many years. In particular, we are interested in the optimal scheduling of lectures from the students point of view. Our institution enrolls many student workers and many students from outside our region and, in addition, our study plans are composed by a majority of compulsory courses, which makes difficult the scheduling of all lectures in a manner that the majority of students can attend the lectures they want or they have to. Therefore we decided to include students' availability as a soft constraint. The platform we are still improving produces final timetables through an algorithm that implements some heuristic scheduling techniques and runs on an HPC environment. From time to time the system tries to relax students' constraints by asking students to rethink and reintroduce their availability within certain limitations.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008