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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

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    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.
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    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Johnes, Jill, 2015. "Operational Research in education," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 243(3), pages 683-696.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:spr:annopr:v:258:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10479-016-2321-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    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.


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