IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

An integrated hybrid approach to the examination timetabling problem


  • Turabieh, Hamza
  • Abdullah, Salwani


This paper is derived from an interest in the development of automated approaches to tackle examination timetabling problems effectively. We propose a hybrid approach that incorporates effective heuristic operators within the great deluge algorithm. The latter was chosen because of consistently good performances being reported within the examination timetabling research domain. The additional heuristic procedures further enhance the overall effectiveness of this integrated hybrid approach. These procedures are drawn from methodologies that have appeared in the literature under term the "electromagnetic-like mechanism". The aim is to move sample points towards a high quality solution while avoiding local optima by utilising a calculated force value. This value, which is calculated dynamically, is treated as a decay rate in determining the level within the great deluge algorithm. To evaluate the proposed algorithm, we carry out experimental work on two types of examination timetabling datasets. All the related results and analysis obtained illustrate that this hybrid approach is effective when compared with existing approaches in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Turabieh, Hamza & Abdullah, Salwani, 2011. "An integrated hybrid approach to the examination timetabling problem," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 598-607, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:39:y:2011:i:6:p:598-607

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. de Werra, D., 1985. "An introduction to timetabling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 151-162, February.
    2. Burke, Edmund Kieran & Petrovic, Sanja, 2002. "Recent research directions in automated timetabling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 266-280, July.
    3. Ribas, Imma & Companys, Ramon & Tort-Martorell, Xavier, 2011. "An iterated greedy algorithm for the flowshop scheduling problem with blocking," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 293-301, June.
    4. Lee, Wen-Chiung & Wu, Chin-Chia & Hsu, Peng-Hsiang, 2010. "A single-machine learning effect scheduling problem with release times," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 38(1-2), pages 3-11, February.
    5. Adlakha, Veena & Kowalski, Krzysztof & Lev, Benjamin, 2010. "A branching method for the fixed charge transportation problem," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 393-397, October.
    6. Qu, Rong & Burke, Edmund K. & McCollum, Barry, 2009. "Adaptive automated construction of hybrid heuristics for exam timetabling and graph colouring problems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 198(2), pages 392-404, October.
    7. Yang, Suh-Jenq & Yang, Dar-Li, 2010. "Minimizing the makespan on single-machine scheduling with aging effect and variable maintenance activities," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 528-533, December.
    8. White, George M. & Xie, Bill S. & Zonjic, Stevan, 2004. "Using tabu search with longer-term memory and relaxation to create examination timetables," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 153(1), pages 80-91, February.
    9. Caramia, M. & Guerriero, F., 2009. "A heuristic approach to long-haul freight transportation with multiple objective functions," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 600-614, June.
    10. Li, Xiaoping & Wang, Qian & Wu, Cheng, 2009. "Efficient composite heuristics for total flowtime minimization in permutation flow shops," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 155-164, February.
    11. Drexl, Andreas & Knust, Sigrid, 2007. "Sports league scheduling: Graph- and resource-based models," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 465-471, October.
    12. Burke, E.K. & Eckersley, A.J. & McCollum, B. & Petrovic, S. & Qu, R., 2010. "Hybrid variable neighbourhood approaches to university exam timetabling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 206(1), pages 46-53, October.
    13. Balakrishnan, N, 1991. "Examination scheduling: A computerized application," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 37-41.
    14. Laha, Dipak & Sarin, Subhash C., 2009. "A heuristic to minimize total flow time in permutation flow shop," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 734-739, June.
    15. Weitz, R. R. & Lakshminarayanan, S., 1997. "An empirical comparison of heuristic and graph theoretic methods for creating maximally diverse groups, VLSI design, and exam scheduling," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 473-482, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Pan, Quan-Ke & Wang, Ling & Li, Jun-Qing & Duan, Jun-Hua, 2014. "A novel discrete artificial bee colony algorithm for the hybrid flowshop scheduling problem with makespan minimisation," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 42-56.
    2. Kang, Liujiang & Wu, Jianjun & Sun, Huijun & Zhu, Xiaoning & Wang, Bo, 2015. "A practical model for last train rescheduling with train delay in urban railway transit networks," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 29-42.
    3. Johnes, Jill, 2015. "Operational Research in education," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 243(3), pages 683-696.
    4. repec:spr:annopr:v:258:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10479-016-2321-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Abdul Rahman, Syariza & Bargiela, Andrzej & Burke, Edmund K. & Özcan, Ender & McCollum, Barry & McMullan, Paul, 2014. "Adaptive linear combination of heuristic orderings in constructing examination timetables," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 232(2), pages 287-297.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:39:y:2011:i:6:p:598-607. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.