I am looking for papers/resources that deal with timetabling problems in education. I want the resources to cover as much information as possible:

  1. I don't have enough contact with people who are managing high schools. I cannot imagine all of their needs (constraints, objectives, on-line optimization, etc.).
  2. I am interested to know what the majority is actually doing to solve the problem.
  3. Is there similar applications (scheduling from an OR point of view, let's say to minimize the gaps in timetables, for example)?
  4. The state of the art to solving this problem.

A. Schaerf wrote an academic 40-page survey on the topic in 1999: A Survey of Automated Timetabling. Artificial Intelligence Review 13, 87–127 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1006576209967. You can find the PDF file here. In this survey, Schaerf discusses school timetabling, course timetabling, examination timetabling, and related scheduling problems. He presents common solution approaches, mainly heuristic ones since timetabling problems are generally highly combinatorial and hard to solve optimally in practical running times.

A more recent 70-page report is available here by S. Kristiansen and T.R. Stidsen. In addition to the topics addressed in Schaerf's survey, the authors list all the benchmark data available publicly, in particular through the famous International Timetabling Competition (look at the 2021 edition dedicated to sport timetabling).

Several educational groups, schools, and universities worldwide use LocalSolver to solve large-scale timetabling problems effectively. These problems are richer than the ones described in Schaerf's survey. To get an idea of the constraints and objectives in real-life timetabling, look at the questionnaire and answers on Table IV in this study done in a public Malaysian university.


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