A Constraint-Based Dental School Timetabling System
We describe a constraint-based timetabling system that was developed for the dental school based at Cork University Hospital in Ireland. This sy stem has been deployed since 2010. Dental school timetabling differs from other university course scheduling in that certain clinic sessions can be used by multiple courses at the same time, provided a limit on room capacity is satisfied. Starting from a constraint programming solution using a web interface, we have moved to a mixed integer programming-based solver to deal with multiple objective functions, along with a dedicated Java application, which provides a rich user interface. Solutions for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 have been used in the dental school, replacing a manual timetabling process, which could no longer cope with increasing student numbers and resulting resource bottlenecks. The use of the automated system allowed the dental school to increase the number of students enrolled to the maximum possible given the available resources. It also provides the school with a valuable “what-if” analysis tool.
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