I have a model for the no-wait flow shop scheduling problem, that utilizes the linear ordering variables, and there is a constraint with big-M. When I implement the model in CPLEX OPL, the model assigns zero to all linear ordering variables. I guess the problem is with the big-M constraint, but I don't know how to fix it.

Here is my implementation of the two main constraints in CPLEX OPL. The variable X[i][j] takes 1 if job j is processed after job i in the sequence. The variable C[i][k] shows the completion time of job i on machine k.

In the second constraint (c2) I put 10000 as the big-M (the same value I use in other solvers). The answer turns out to be infeasible due to constraint 1 (c1), since the solver puts all X variables equal to zero (hence violating c1 since 0 = 1).

int NumofJobs = 2;
int NumofMachines = 3;

range n = 1..NumofJobs;
range m = 1..NumofMachines;
dvar boolean X[n][n];
dvar int+ C[n][m];

int TaskTime[n][m] = [[5,6,3], [2,8,9]];;

 minimize (sum (i in n) (C[i][NumofMachines]));

 subject to {

   forall (i in n)
    forall (j in n: j > i)             
      c1: X[i][j] + X[j][i] == 1;

   forall (i in n)
     forall (j in n: j != i)
        forall (k in m)
          c2: C[i][k] + TaskTime[j][k] <= C[j][k] + 10000 * (1 - X[i][j]);

I have implemented the same model in other solvers and the problem is solved without any issue.


2 Answers 2


It is numerically safer to use a (small) data-dependent value for $M$. For your case, rewrite as:

C[i][k] + TaskTime[j][k] - C[j][k] <= M[i][j][k] * (1 - X[i][j]);

You want to choose $M_{i,j,k}$ to be a (small) upper bound on the left hand side when $X_{i,j}=0$. A good choice is $$M_{i,j,k} = U_{i,k} + T_{j,k} - L_{j,k},$$ where $U_{i,k}$ is a good upper bound on $C_{i,k}$ and $L_{j,k}$ is a good lower bound (0?) on $C_{j,k}$.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your help. I agree data-dependent values of M will help in terms of efficiency, however, I am wondering why the model cannot be solved with the fixed value. In the example in the OP, there are only two jobs and three machines, but no particular value for M results in solving the instance. $\endgroup$
    – Mostafa
    Jan 8, 2020 at 3:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To diagnose infeasibility, I recommend fixing the variables from a known solution and seeing which constraints are violated. $\endgroup$
    – RobPratt
    Jan 8, 2020 at 3:20

with CPLEX 12.10 your model gives a solution with objective 3

If you prefer not to use big M, you could use logical constraints and rewrite

forall (k in m)
          c2: C[i][k] + TaskTime[j][k] <= C[j][k] + 10000 * (1 - X[i][j]);


forall (k in m)
          c2b:(X[i][j]==1) => (C[i][k] + TaskTime[j][k] <= C[j][k]);

But even better, within OPL CPLEX I encourage you to have a look at the CPOptimizer solver that could tackle your problem even faster.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Alex. This really helps. I also found out that I can use logical or to rewrite the constraint. Which one do you recommend? $\endgroup$
    – Mostafa
    Jan 9, 2020 at 6:56

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