A component based heuristic search method with evolutionary eliminations for hospital personnel scheduling
Li, Jingpeng and Aickelin, Uwe and Burke, Edmund (2008) A component based heuristic search method with evolutionary eliminations for hospital personnel scheduling. INFORMS Journal on Computing, 21 (3). pp. 468-479. ISSN 1526-5528
Nurse rostering is a complex scheduling problem that affects hospital personnel on a daily basis all over the world. This paper presents a new component-based approach with evolutionary eliminations for a nurse scheduling problem arising at a major UK hospital. The main idea behind this technique is to decompose a schedule into its components (i.e., the allocated shift pattern of each nurse), and then to implement two evolutionary elimination strategies mimicking natural selection and the natural mutation process on these components, respectively, to iteratively deliver better schedules. The worthiness of all components in the schedule has to be continuously demonstrated for them to remain there. This demonstration employs an evaluation function that evaluates how well each component contributes toward the final objective. Two elimination steps are then applied: the first elimination removes a number of components that are deemed not worthy to stay in the current schedule; the second elimination may also throw out, with a low level of probability, some worthy components. The eliminated components are replenished with new ones using a set of constructive heuristics using local optimality criteria. Computational results using 52 data instances demonstrate the applicability of the proposed approach in solving real-world problems.
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