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Fairness in Academic Course Timetabling

Moritz Mühlenthaler and Rolf Wanka

Department of Computer Science
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

Abstract. We consider the problem of creating fair course timetables in the setting of a university. Our motivation is to improve the overall satisfaction of individuals concerned (students, teachers, etc.) by providing a fair timetable to them. The central idea is that undesirable arrangements in the course timetable, i.e., violations of soft constraint, should be distributed in a fair way among the individuals. We propose two formulations for the fair course timetabling problem that are based on max-min fairness and Jain's fairness index, respectively. Furthermore, we present and experimentally evaluate an optimization algorithm based on simulated annealing for solving max-min fair course timetabling problems. The new contribution is concerned with measuring the energy difference between two timetables, i.e., how much worse a timetable is compared to another timetable with respect to max-min fairness. We introduce three different energy difference measures and evaluate their impact on the overall algorithm performance. The second proposed problem formulation focuses on the tradeoff between fairness and the total amount of soft constraint violations. Our experimental evaluation shows that the best known solutions to the ITC2007 curriculum-based course timetabling instances are quite fair with respect to Jain's fairness index. However, the experiments also show that the fairness can be improved further for only a rather small increase in the total amount of soft constraint violations.

Full article in PDF

arXiv:1303.2860 (2013)

Published in: Proc. 9th Int. Conf. on the Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling (PATAT), pp. 114-130, 2012.

BibTex entry

  Impressum Stand: 25 June 2013.   R.W.