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An Electromagnetic Meta-Heuristic for the Nurse Scheduling Problem

  • B. MAENHOUT

    ()

  • M. VANHOUCKE

    ()

In this paper, we present a novel meta-heuristic technique for the nurse scheduling problem (NSP). This well-known scheduling problem assigns nurses to shifts per day taking both hard and soft constraints into account. The objective is to maximize the preferences of the nurses and to minimize the total penalty cost from violations of the soft constraints. The problem is known to be NP-hard. Due to its complexity and relevance, many algorithms have been developed to solve practical, and often case-specific versions of the NSP. The enormous amount of different constraints has led to an overwhelming amount of exact and meta-heuristic procedures, and hence comparison and stateof- the-art reporting of standard results seem to be a utopian idea. The contribution of this paper is twofold. First, we present a meta-heuristic procedure for the NSP based on the framework proposed by Birbil and Fang (2003). The Electromagnetic (EM) approach is based on the theory of physics, and simulates attraction and repulsion of sample points in order to move towards a promising solution. Second, we present computational experiments on a standard benchmark dataset, and solve problem instances under different assumptions. We show that our procedure performs consistently well under many different circumstances, and hence, can be considered as robust against case-specific constraints.

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File URL: http://wps-feb.ugent.be/Papers/wp_05_316.pdf
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Paper provided by Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration in its series Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium with number 05/316.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:05/316
Contact details of provider: Postal: Hoveniersberg 4, B-9000 Gent
Phone: ++ 32 (0) 9 264 34 61
Fax: ++ 32 (0) 9 264 35 92
Web page: http://www.ugent.be/eb

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  1. P. Everaert & G. Sarens, 2005. "Outsourcing bij Vlaamse Ondernemingen: een Exploratief Onderzoek," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/306, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  2. Vandevoorde, S. & Vanhoucke, M., 2005. "A comparison of different project duration forecasting methods using earned value metrics," Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Working Paper Series 2005-16, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
  3. M. Vanhoucke & S. Vandevoorde, 2005. "A simulation and evaluation of earned value metrics to forecast the project duration," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/317, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  4. Sophie Claeys, & Gleb Lanine & Koen Schoors, 2005. "Bank Supervision Russian style: Rules versus Enforcement and Tacit Objectives," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp778, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  5. M. Vanhoucke & D. Debels, 2005. "The Discrete Time/Cost Trade-Off Problem Under Various Assumptions Exact And Heuristic Procedures," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/314, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  6. I. Vermeir & M. Geuens, 2005. "Need for Closure and Youngsters’ Leisure Time Preferences," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/318, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  7. G. Poels & A. Maes & F. Gailly, 2005. "User Attitudes towards Pattern-Based Enterprise Information Models: A Replicated Experiment with REA Diagrams," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/315, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  8. A. Heirman & B. Clarysse, 2005. "The imprinting effect of initial resources and market strategy on the early growth path of start-Ups," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/310, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  9. A. Maes & G. Poels & F. Gailly & R. Paemeleire, 2005. "Measuring User Beliefs and Attitudes towards Conceptual Models: A Factor and Structural Equation Model," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/311, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  10. S. CLAEYS & G. LANINE & K. SCHOORs, 2005. "Bank Supervision Russian Style: Rules vs Enforcement and Tacit Objectives," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/307, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
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