Group for Research in Decision Analysis


A General Examination Scheduling System

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Examination scheduling is a problem in virtually every high school, college and university. The basic challenge is to schedule examinations over a limited time period so as to avoid conflicts and to satisfy a number of side constraints. Most algorithms are tailored to the requirements of a particular context and are therefore of limited general applicability. Over the last ten years, the authors have developed EXAMINE, a robust and flexible examination scheduling system suited to the needs of most educational institutions. EXAMINE runs on a PC; it is fast and user-friendly. In addition to providing a choice of feasible schedules, EXAMINE produces solutions in which examinations are well spread out for most students. Constraints of the form "no student shall take more than x examinations in y days" are handled. Other requirements frequently encountered in practice are also dealt with, such as room or time availability restrictions for certain exams. Undesirable exam patterns can be treated as hard constraints, or penalized through the use of weights in the objective function, at the user's choice. Over the past two years, EXAMINE has benefitted from ongoing collaboration with two universities, each having particular requirements (the University of Toronto's Engineering Faculty and Carleton University). This has enabled the authors to develop the software to handle a wide range of examination timetabling requirements. The package is now fully implemented at the University of Toronto and Carleton University has plans to use EXAMINE in parallel with its current system in the Winter term of 1992, and as its main scheduler thereafter. In addition, EXAMINE is currently being implemented at other institutions, including the London School of Economics and Otago University in New Zealand.

, 19 pages