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Added on 19 January 2009: the implementation of the algorithm is good now, I cha

nged it in 2008.
Some words about the algorithm:
FET uses a heuristic algorithm, placing the activities in turn, starting with th
e most difficult ones.
If it cannot find a solution it points you to the potential impossible activitie
s, so you can
correct errors. The algorithm swaps activities recursively if that is possible i
n order to make
space for a new activity, or, in extreme cases, backtracks and switches order of
evaluation.
The important code is in src/engine/generate.cpp. The algorithm mimics the opera
tion of a human
timetabler, I think.
When placing an activity, I choose the place with lowest number of conflicting a
ctivities and
recursively replace them. I use a tabu list to avoid cycles.
The maximum depth (level) of recursion is 14.
The maximum number of recursive calls is 2*nInternalActivities (found practicall
y - modified 18 Aug. 2007).
I tried with variable number, more precisely the 2*(number of already placed act
ivities+1). I am not sure about
the results, it might be better with variable number, but not sure.
The recursion chooses only one variant from depth 5 (modified 15 Aug. 2007) abov
e, then it returns.
How to respect the students gaps (possible in combination with early)? Compute t
he number of
total hours per week for each subgroup, then when generating, the total span of
lessons
should not exceed the total number of hours per week for the subgroup. The span
is
computed differently if you have no gaps or if you have no gaps+early
Added on 16 Aug 2007, modified 22 Aug 2007:
The structure of the solution is an array of times[MAX_ACTIVITIES] and
rooms[MAX_ACTIVITIES], I hope you understand why. I begin with unallocated. I
sort the activities, most difficult ones first. Sorting is done in
generate_pre.cpp. In generate_pre.cpp I also compute various matrices which
are faster to use than the internal constraints list. Generation is
recursive. Suppose we are at activity no. permutation[added_act] (added_act
from 0 to gt.rules.nInternalActivities - permutation[i] keeps the activities
in order, most difficult ones first, and this order will possibly change in
allocation). We scan each slot and for each slot record the activities which
conflict with permutation[added_act]. We then order them, the emptiest slots
first. Then, for the first, second, ... last slot: unallocate
the activities in this slot, place permutation[added_act] and try to place
the remaining activities recursively with the same procedure. The max level of
recursion is 14 (humans use 10, but I found that sometimes 14 is better) and
the total number of calls for this routine, random_swap(act, level) is 2*nIntern
alActivities
(found practically - might not be the best).
If I cannot place activity permutation[added_act] this way (the 2*nInternalActiv
ities limit is
reached), then I choose the best slot, place permutation[added_act] in this
slot and pull out the other conflicting activities from this slot and add
them to the list of unallocated activities. added_act might decrease this
way. Now I keep track of old tried removals and avoid them (they are in the
tabu list - with size tabu_size (nInternalActivities*nHoursPerWeek for now)) - t
o avoid cycles.
The routine random_swap will only search (recursively) the first (best)
slot if level>=5. That is, we search at level 0 all slots, at level 1 the same,
..., at level 4 the same, at level 5 only the first (best) slot, at level 6 only
the first (best) slot, etc., we reach level 13, then we go back to level 4 and
choose the next slot, etc. This is to allow FET more liberty, I think. This
trick was found practically to be good. It might not always be good.