A domain transformation approach for addressing staff scheduling problems

Baskaran, Geetha (2016) A domain transformation approach for addressing staff scheduling problems. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Staff scheduling is a complex combinatorial optimisation problem concerning allocation of staff to duty rosters in a wide range of industries and settings. This thesis presents a novel approach to solving staff scheduling problems, and in particular nurse scheduling, by simplifying the problem space through information granulation. The complexity of the problem is due to a large solution space and the many constraints that need to be satisfied. Published research indicates that methods based on random searches of the solution space did not produce good-quality results consistently. In this study, we have avoided random searching and proposed a systematic hierarchical method of granulation of the problem domain through pre-processing of constraints. The approach is general and can be applied to a wide range of staff scheduling problems.

The novel approach proposed here involves a simplification of the original problem by a judicious grouping of shift types and a grouping of individual shifts into weekly sequences. The schedule construction is done systematically, while assuring its feasibility and minimising the cost of the solution in the reduced problem space of weekly sequences. Subsequently, the schedules from the reduced problem space are translated into the original problem space by taking into account the constraints that could not be represented in the reduced space. This two-stage approach to solving the scheduling problem is referred to here as a domain-transformation approach.

The thesis reports computational results on both standard benchmark problems and a specific scheduling problem from Kajang Hospital in Malaysia. The results confirm that the proposed method delivers high-quality results consistently and is computationally efficient.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Bargiela, Andrzej
Qu, Rong
Keywords: scheduling, domain transformation, information granulation
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 31249
Depositing User: BASKARAN, GEETHA
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 08:48
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2017 07:09
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/31249

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