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in project networks

Shih-Pin Chen

a,

*

, Yi-Ju Hsueh

b

a

Department of Business Administration, National Chung Cheng University, Min-Hsiung, Chia-Yi 621, Taiwan

b

Department of Speech Communication, Shih Hsin University, Mu-Cha, Taipei 116, Taiwan

Received 1 October 2005; received in revised form 1 March 2007; accepted 20 April 2007

Available online 29 May 2007

Abstract

This paper develops a simple approach to critical path analysis in a project network with activity times being fuzzy

numbers. The idea is based on the linear programming (LP) formulation and fuzzy number ranking method. The fuzzy

critical path problem is formulated as an LP model with fuzzy coeﬃcients of the objective function, and then on the basis

of properties of linearity and additivity, the Yager’s ranking method is adopted to transform the fuzzy LP formulation to

the crisp one which can be solved by using the conventional streamlined solution methods. Consequently, the critical path

and total duration time can be obtained from the derived optimal solution. Moreover, in this paper we also deﬁne the most

critical path and the relative path degree of criticality, which are theoretically sound and easy to use in practice. An exam-

ple discussed in some previous studies illustrates that the proposed approach is able to ﬁnd the most critical path, which is

proved to be the same as that derived from an exhausted comparison of all possible paths. The proposed approach is very

simple to apply, and it is not require knowing the explicit form of the membership functions of the fuzzy activity times.

Ó 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Critical path; Fuzzy CPM; Ranking

1. Introduction

When the activity duration times in projects are known and deterministic, critical path method (CPM) has

been demonstrated to be a useful tool in the planning and control of complicated projects in a wide range of

engineering and management applications [1,2]. However, in practice, there are cases that the activity duration

times have to be estimated subjectively. Several researchers, such as Zielin´ ski [3], Slyeptsov and Tyshchuk

[4,5], Dubois et al. [6], Chanas et al. [7], Chanas and Zielin´ski [8–10], Kuchta [11], and others [12–14],

employed the concept of fuzziness [15,16] to these cases, and developed analysis approaches. Most of these

approaches are based on the CPM with formulas for the forward and the backward recursions, in which

the deterministic activity times are replaced with the fuzzy activity times. However, Zielin´ ski [3] pointed that

0307-904X/$ - see front matter Ó 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.apm.2007.04.009

*

Corresponding author. Tel.: +886 5 2720411; fax: +886 5 2720564.

E-mail address: chensp@ccu.edu.tw (S.-P. Chen).

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297

www.elsevier.com/locate/apm

the backward recursion fails to compute the sets of possible values of the latest starting times and ﬂoats of

activities. Moreover, even for the same path, diﬀerent deﬁnitions of the fuzzy critical path give diﬀerent esti-

mations of the degree of criticality [8]. Chanas and Zielin´ ski [8] proposed a natural generalization of the crit-

icality notion in a project network, in that some relations between the notion of fuzzy criticality and that of

interval criticality are discussed, and two methods for calculating the path degree of criticality are also pro-

vided. Dubois et al. [6] developed heuristics for computing the sets of possible values of the latest starting times

and ﬂoats of activities. Zielin´ ski [3] developed polynomial algorithms for determining the intervals of the latest

starting times in general networks.

On the basis of the linear programming (LP) formulation and the fuzzy number ranking method [17–19],

this paper develops a simple approach to the critical path problem with activity duration times being fuzzy

numbers. As generally known, since the crisp CPM problem can be thought as the opposite of the shortest

path problem [2], it can be formulated as an LP, in that its objective is to maximize a linear combination

of the activity times subject to some crisp constraints. Following this, when the activity times are fuzzy num-

bers, the fuzzy CPM problem can be also formulated an LP, where its objective is to maximize a fuzzy number

that is a linear combination of the fuzzy activity times. Thus, a straightforward idea is to rank the fuzzy objec-

tive values of diﬀerent paths by some ranking approaches for fuzzy numbers to ﬁnd the fuzzy critical path that

is the path with largest ranking index calculated from the ranking approach. For the conventional streamlined

solution methods can still be applied to solve the LP model formulated in this paper, an appropriate fuzzy

ranking method, namely Yager’s ranking method [18], is adopted to transform the fuzzy CPM problem to

a crisp one. In additions, the relative path degree of criticality for some path is also deﬁned.

This paper is organized as follows. Firstly, the idea of the LP formulation of the fuzzy critical path problem

is described. In Section 3, the solution approach based on the idea of transforming the fuzzy critical path prob-

lem to a crisp one is described. Subsequently, an example with activity times being L-R fuzzy numbers, inves-

tigated by Chanas and Zielin´ ski [8], is solved successfully to illustrate the validity of the proposed method in

this paper together with discussions. Finally we conclude this paper.

2. The LP formulation of fuzzy CPM problems

Consider a project model G = (N, A) which is a directed and connected network, where N is the set of n

nodes, and A is the set of (i, j) 2 A arcs. Denote T

ij

as the activity time of activity (i, j) 2 A. The CPM is a net-

work-based method designed to construct the time scheduling for the project, in that two basic results, the

total duration time needed to complete the project and the critical path, are provided. One of eﬃcient

approaches for ﬁnding critical paths and total duration time of project networks is the LP. Since a CPM prob-

lem can be though of as the opposite of the shortest path problem [2], to determine a critical path in the project

network it suﬃces to ﬁnd the longest path from start to ﬁnish. Then the length of this longest path is the total

duration time of the project network. Assume that a unit ﬂow enters the project network at the start node and

leaves at the ﬁnish node. The CPM problem with n nodes is formulated as [2]

max D ¼

X

n

i¼1

X

n

j¼1

T

ij

x

ij

s:t:

X

n

j¼1

x

1j

¼ 1;

X

n

j¼1

x

ij

¼

X

n

k¼1

x

ki

; i ¼ 2; . . . ; n À 1;

X

n

k¼1

x

kn

¼ 1;

x

ij

P0; ði; jÞ 2 A;

ð1Þ

where x

ij

is the decision variable denoting the amount of ﬂow in activity (i, j) 2 A, and the constraints represent

the conservation of ﬂow at each node, indicating that the ﬂow may be neither created nor destroyed in the

project network. As the shortest path problem, all the basic feasible variables in each basic feasible solution

1290 S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297

(BFS) to Model (1) are binary [2]. The critical path for this project network consists of an activity (i, j) 2 A

from the start to the ﬁnish in which each activity in the path corresponds to the optimal decision variable

x

Ã

ij

¼ 1 in the optimal solution to Model (1). The total duration time needed to complete the project is given

as the maximal objective value D of Model (1).

Suppose the activity times T

ij

, (i, j) 2 A are imprecise and can be represented as fuzzy numbers

e

T

ij

, (i, j) 2 A.

Then the LP formulation of the fuzzy CPM problem is

max

e

D ¼

X

n

i¼1

X

n

j¼1

e

T

ij

x

ij

s:t:

X

n

j¼1

x

1j

¼ 1;

X

n

j¼1

x

ij

¼

X

n

k¼1

x

ki

; i ¼ 2; . . . ; n À 1;

X

n

k¼1

x

kn

¼ 1;

x

ij

P0; ði; jÞ 2 A:

ð2Þ

Note that the total duration time

e

D becomes a fuzzy number rather than a crisp one. Consequently, Model (2)

cannot be solved directly [20].

3. The solution procedure

To deal with this problem, one approach which has been proved to be correct is to transform the fuzzy

numbers to crisp ones. For example, Buckley and Feuring [20] proposed an approach to fully fuzziﬁed LP

problem based on transforming the objective function of a fuzzy LP problem to a crisp multi-objective pro-

gramming problem; they also provided the proof the correctness of crisp transformation of this kind. On the

basis of this concept of defuzziﬁcation, this paper transforms Model (2) to crisp one via defuzzifying the fuzzy

activity times in the objective function into crisp ones by using a fuzzy ranking method which is simple and the

conventional crisp LP solvers can still workable. The idea is that if we can ﬁnd all possible feasible solutions,

corresponding to possible paths, described by the constraints in Model (2), then we can ﬁnd the critical path

simply by comparing all the fuzzy objective values. The path with the largest objective value is identiﬁed as the

critical path. However, a comparison of the lengths of all possible paths is impractical even on a high-speed

computer, especially for a large project network with possibly many fuzzy paths. Fortunately, like the CPM

problem in crisp environments, since we would like to ﬁnd the critical path rather than all paths in fuzzy envi-

ronments, it is unnecessary to ﬁnding all fuzzy paths that is a cumbersome task. Therefore, to ﬁnd the critical

path in fuzzy environments, it suﬃces to solve the crisp LP model which is transformed from Model (2), where

the fuzzy objective value of Model (2) is defuzziﬁed to a crisp one based on a fuzzy number ranking method.

Many fuzzy number ranking methods have been proposed and discussed [17–19]. For dealing with Model

(2), it is required to select an approach that is simple and could still be applied to identify the critical path by

using the streamlined network simplex method [2]. One popular approach that meets these requirements is the

Yager’s ranking method [18]. This paper adopts this method for ranking the objective values that denote the

path lengths of the project network. Before presenting the idea of this paper, we brieﬂy introduce the Yager

ranking index.

3.1. Yager ranking index

Fortemps and Roubens [17] pointed out that ‘‘area compensation’’ is robust and possesses the properties of

linearity and additivity. On the basis of the concept of area compensation, Yager [18] proposed a procedure

for ordering fuzzy sets, in which a ranking index Ið

~

tÞ is calculated for the convex fuzzy number

~

t from its a-cut

a

t ¼ ½t

L

a

; t

U

a

according to the following formula:

S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297 1291

Iðet Þ ¼

Z

1

0

1

2

ðt

L

a

þ t

U

a

Þ da; ð3Þ

which is the center of the mean value of

~

t. Considering two fuzzy numbers

e

D

1

and

e

D

2

, the case of

Ið

e

D

1

Þ PIð

e

D

2

Þ implies that

e

D

1

P

e

D

2

, and then maxf

e

D

1

;

e

D

2

g ¼

e

D

1

[17,18]. This index is very simple to apply,

and according to (3), since it is calculated for the convex fuzzy number

e

t from the extreme values of its a-cut,

t

L

a

and t

U

a

, rather than its membership function, it is not require knowing the explicit form of the membership

functions of the fuzzy numbers to be ranked. That is, unlike most of the ranking methods that require the

knowledge the membership functions of all fuzzy numbers to be ranked, the Yager’s ranking index is still

applicable even if the explicit form of the membership function of the fuzzy activity times is unknown. The

detailed descriptions of the Yager’s method could be found in Fortemps and Roubens [17] and Yager [18].

Moreover, the Yager’s ranking method also possesses linearity and additivity properties since it is one of

ranking techniques based on area compensation. Consider a convex fuzzy number

e

A which can be a linear

combination of other two convex fuzzy numbers

e

B and

e

C, that is,

e

A ¼ u

e

B þ v

e

C, where u and v are constants.

Then we have Ið

e

AÞ ¼ uIð

e

BÞ þ vIð

e

CÞ. Consequently, on the basis of the Yager’s ranking method, the fuzzy

CPM problem can be transformed to a conventional CPM problem with crisp activity times.

3.2. Crisp transformation

Consider the critical path problem formulated as Model (2) with m paths. Let x

ðkÞ

ij

, (i, j) 2 A be the kth BFS

which corresponds to the kth path p

k

, k = 1, 2, . . . , m. Then,

e

D

ðkÞ

¼

P

n

i¼1

P

n

j¼1

e

T

ij

x

ðkÞ

ij

is the fuzzy total duration

time of the kth path. Of these m paths, the one with the largest total duration time

e

D

Ã

¼ maxf

e

D

ðkÞ

; k ¼ 1; 2; . . . ; mg could be identiﬁed as a fuzzy critical path, which is most likely to have

the largest total duration time, called the most critical path in this paper. According to the property of the

Yager’s method discusses in Section 3.1, by applying this method to ﬁnd the

e

D

Ã

, it suﬃces to ﬁnd the largest

Yager ranking index Ið

e

D

Ã

Þ ¼ maxfIð

e

D

ðkÞ

Þ; k ¼ 1; 2; . . . ; mg. Furthermore, since the Yager’s method possesses

the properties of linearity and additivity, we have

Ið

e

D

ðkÞ

Þ ¼ I

X

n

i¼1

X

n

j¼1

e

T

ij

x

ðkÞ

ij

!

¼

X

n

i¼1

X

n

j¼1

Ið

e

T

ij

Þx

ðkÞ

ij

:

That is, the maximum fuzzy objective value

e

D

Ã

corresponds to the maximum ranking index Ið

e

D

Ã

Þ ¼

max

k

P

n

i¼1

P

n

j¼1

I

e

T

ij

x

ðkÞ

ij

n o

. Consequently, the critical path problem with fuzzy activity times can be formu-

lated as follows:

Ið

e

D

Ã

Þ ¼ max

X

n

i¼1

X

n

j¼1

Ið

e

T

ij

Þx

ij

s:t:

X

n

j¼1

x

1j

¼ 1;

X

n

j¼1

x

ij

¼

X

n

k¼1

x

ki

; i ¼ 2; . . . ; n À 1;

X

n

k¼1

x

kn

¼ 1;

x

ij

P0; ði; jÞ 2 A:

ð4Þ

This problem is essentially a conventional linear program since the coeﬃcients in the objective function Ið

e

T

ij

Þ,

(i, j) 2 A, are crisp real numbers rather than fuzzy numbers. There are many eﬃcient and eﬀective approaches

to the conventional LP problems [2] of this kind. From the obtained optimal BFS x

Ã

ij

, (i, j) 2 A of Model (4),

the most critical path p

*

can be identiﬁed, and the fuzzy total duration time can be calculated as

e

D

Ã

¼

P

n

i¼1

P

n

j¼1

e

T

ij

x

Ã

ij

.

1292 S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297

Note that since this crisp transformation is based on transforming the fuzzy activity times into crisp ones by

using Yager’s method which processes sound properties of compensation, linearity, and additivity, Model (4)

can be proved to be correct. Furthermore, next section the dual formulation of the fuzzy CPM problem is also

provided for the proof of the correctness of this crisp transformation.

3.3. Dual veriﬁcation

It is well known that according to the duality theorem of LP, the primal and the dual models have the same

objective value [2]. Thus, one way to show the validity of the above crisp transformation is to formulate the

dual of Model (1):

min y

n

À y

1

s:t: y

j

À y

i

PT

ij

; ði; jÞ 2 A;

y

i

; y

j

unrestricted in sign; 8ði; jÞ 2 A;

ð5Þ

where the decision variables y

i

and y

j

denoting the occurrence time of nodes i and j, respectively. Each con-

straint associated with an activity speciﬁes the precedence relationships among the diﬀerent activities, that

is, the constraint of y

j

À y

i

PT

ij

shows that the earliest occurrence time for node j cannot be any earlier than

time y

i

+ T

ij

. The objective is to ﬁnd the shortest time span such that all precedence relationships are satisﬁed.

When activity times are fuzzy numbers, Model (5) becomes

min y

n

À y

1

s:t: y

j

À y

i

P

e

T

ij

; ði; jÞ 2 A;

y

i

; y

j

unrestricted in sign; 8ði; jÞ 2 A;

ð6Þ

which is a linear program with right-handed values of constraints being fuzzy numbers. One way to deal with

Model (6) is to apply the crisp transformation stated above, and then we have

min y

n

À y

1

s:t: y

j

À y

i

PIð

e

T

ij

Þ; ði; jÞ 2 A;

y

i

; y

j

unrestricted in sign; 8ði; jÞ 2 A:

ð7Þ

The dual of Model (7) is exactly the same as Model (4), which proves the correctness of the crisp transforma-

tion stated in the preceding subsection.

3.4. Relative path degree of criticality

Consider the BFS to Model (4). As stated in Section 3.2, any BFS is corresponding to one path in the pro-

ject network. Setting the path degree of criticality of the most critical path as 1.0, denoted as deg

R

Cr

ðp

Ã

Þ ¼ 1, the

relative path degree of criticality of the kth path p

k

, k = 1, 2, . . . , m, can be deﬁned as follows:

deg

R

Cr

ðp

k

Þ ¼

P

n

i¼1

P

n

j¼1

Ið

e

T

ij

Þx

ðkÞ

ij

P

n

i¼1

P

n

j¼1

Ið

e

T

ij

Þx

Ã

ij

; k ¼ 1; 2; . . . ; m: ð8Þ

4. Numerical example

To illustrate the validity of the proposed approach, the example studied by Chanas and Zielin´ ski [8] is

investigated.

Example. The problem is to ﬁnd the most critical path between Node 1 and Node 9 on the project network

with fuzzy activity times shown in Fig. 1. The activity times are fuzzy numbers of L

ij

-R

ij

type, (i, j) 2 A [16].

S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297 1293

The notation used in this paper is

e

T ¼ ðm; m; a; bÞ

LR

for an L-R fuzzy number whose the membership function

is as follows:

l

e

T

ðtÞ ¼

L

mÀt

a

À Á

; for t 6 m;

1; for m 6 t 6 m;

R

tÀ m

b

; for t P m;

8

>

>

>

<

>

>

>

:

ð9Þ

where a and b are nonnegative real numbers, and L and R are called reference functions of this fuzzy number,

which are continuous, nonincreasing functions that deﬁning the left and right shapes of l

e

T

ðtÞ, respectively;

and L(0) = R(0) = 1. Five commonly used nonlinear reference functions with parameter q, denoted as RF

q

,

and are summarized as follows [16]:

linear: RF ðxÞ ¼ maxð0; 1 À xÞ; ð10aÞ

exponential: RF

q

ðxÞ ¼ e

Àqx

; q P1; ð10bÞ

power: RF

q

ðxÞ ¼ maxð0; 1 À x

q

Þ; q P1; ð10cÞ

exponential power: RF

q

ðxÞ ¼ e

Àx

q

; q P1; ð10dÞ

rational: RF

q

ðxÞ ¼ 1=ð1 þ x

q

Þ; q P1: ð10eÞ

In this example the fuzzy activity times are as follows:

e

T

12

¼ ð1; 1:5; 1; 1Þ

L

12

ÀR

12

;

e

T

13

¼ ð2; 3; 0; 2Þ

L

13

ÀR

13

;

e

T

24

¼ ð0; 0; 0; 0Þ

L

24

ÀR

24

;

e

T

25

¼ ð2; 3; 1; 2Þ

L

25

ÀR

25

;

e

T

34

¼ ð0; 0; 0; 0Þ

L

34

ÀR

34

;

e

T

36

¼ ð6; 7; 0; 2Þ

L

36

ÀR

36

;

e

T

46

¼ ð5; 5; 1; 1Þ

L

46

ÀR

46

;

e

T

47

¼ ð9; 9; 1; 1Þ

L

47

ÀR

47

;

e

T

59

¼ ð8; 9; 2; 4Þ

L

59

ÀR

59

;

e

T

68

¼ ð4; 4; 2; 2Þ

L

68

ÀR

68

;

e

T

78

¼ ð3; 4; 2; 0Þ

L

78

ÀR

78

; and

e

T

89

¼ ð6; 9; 2; 3Þ

L

89

ÀR

89

;

the reference functions are

L

12

ðxÞ ¼ L

68

ðxÞ ¼ L

89

ðxÞ ¼ maxð1 À x

2

; 0Þ; L

13

ðxÞ ¼ e

Àx

;

L

24

ðxÞ ¼ L

34

ðxÞ ¼ L

46

ðxÞ ¼ L

78

ðxÞ ¼ maxð0; 1 À xÞ;

L

25

ðxÞ ¼ L

47

ðxÞ ¼ L

59

ðxÞ ¼ maxð0; 1 À x

4

Þ; L

36

ðxÞ ¼ e

Àx

2

;

R

12

ðxÞ ¼ R

13

ðxÞ ¼ R

24

ðxÞ ¼ maxð0; 1 À xÞ; R

34

ðxÞ ¼ R

36

ðxÞ ¼ R

59

ðxÞ ¼ maxð1 À x

2

; 0Þ;

R

46

ðxÞ ¼ R

68

ðxÞ ¼ R

78

ðxÞ ¼ maxð0; 1 À x

4

Þ; R

25

ðxÞ ¼ R

47

ðxÞ ¼ e

Àx

and R

89

ðxÞ ¼ e

Àx

2

:

Fig. 1. The network structure of the project in the Example (reprinted from [8]).

1294 S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297

According to Model (2), this problem can be formulated as follows:

max

e

T

12

x

12

þ

e

T

13

x

13

þ

e

T

24

x

24

þ

e

T

34

x

34

þ

e

T

25

x

25

þ

e

T

36

x

36

þ

e

T

46

x

46

þ

e

T

47

x

47

þ

e

T

59

x

59

þ

e

T

68

x

68

þ

e

T

78

x

78

þ

e

T

89

x

89

s:t: x

12

þ x

13

¼ 1;

x

12

¼ x

24

þ x

25

;

x

13

¼ x

34

þ x

36

;

x

24

þ x

34

¼ x

47

þ x

46

;

x

25

¼ x

59

;

x

46

þ x

36

¼ x

68

;

x

47

¼ x

78

;

x

78

þ x

68

¼ x

89

;

x

59

þ x

89

¼ 1;

x

12

; x

13

; x

24

; x

34

; x

25

; x

36

; x

46

; x

47

; x

59

; x

68

; x

78

; x

89

P0:

The associated mathematical program based on Model (4) is

max I

e

T

12

x

12

þ I

e

T

13

x

13

þ I

e

T

24

x

24

þ I

e

T

34

x

34

þ I

e

T

25

x

25

þ I

e

T

36

x

36

þ I

e

T

46

x

46

þ I

e

T

47

x

47

þ I

e

T

59

x

59

þ I

e

T

68

x

68

þ I

e

T

78

x

78

þ I

e

T

89

x

89

s:t: x

12

þ x

13

¼ 1;

x

12

¼ x

24

þ x

25

;

x

13

¼ x

34

þ x

36

;

x

24

þ x

34

¼ x

47

þ x

46

;

x

25

¼ x

59

;

x

46

þ x

36

¼ x

68

;

x

47

¼ x

78

;

x

78

þ x

68

¼ x

89

;

x

59

þ x

89

¼ 1;

x

12

; x

13

; x

24

; x

34

; x

25

; x

36

; x

46

; x

47

; x

59

; x

68

; x

78

; x

89

P0:

ð11Þ

As shown in (3), to use the Yager method stated in Section 3.1 for calculating the ranking indices for the fuzzy

activity times

e

T

ij

, ﬁrstly we have to ﬁnd the a-cut of

e

T

ij

, which can be obtained by ﬁnding the inverse functions

of these reference functions:

for linear: RF

À1

ðaÞ ¼ 1 Àa; a 2 ð0; 1; ð12aÞ

for exponential: RF

À1

q

ðaÞ ¼ Àðln aÞ=q; a 2 ð0; 1; ð12bÞ

for power: RF

À1

q

ðaÞ ¼

ﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

1 À a

q

p

; a 2 ð0; 1; ð12cÞ

for exponential power: RF

À1

q

ðaÞ ¼

ﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

Àln a

q

p

; a 2 ð0; 1; ð12dÞ

for rational: RF

À1

q

ðaÞ ¼

ﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

ð1 À aÞ=a

q

p

; a 2 ð0; 1: ð12eÞ

The Yager’s ranking indices for

e

T

ij

are calculated as: Ið

e

T

12

Þ ¼ Ið

e

T

36

Þ ¼ 1:16667, Ið

e

T

13

Þ ¼ Ið

e

T

78

Þ ¼ 3,

Ið

e

T

24

Þ ¼ Ið

e

T

34

Þ ¼ 0, Ið

e

T

25

Þ ¼ 3:1, Ið

e

T

46

Þ ¼ 5:15, Ið

e

T

47

Þ ¼ 9:1, Ið

e

T

59

Þ ¼ 9:03333, Ið

e

T

68

Þ ¼ 4:13333, and

Ið

e

T

89

Þ ¼ 8:16267. Substituting these values into Model (11) results in a conventional critical path problem that

is easy to be solved. A mathematical programming solver Lingo [21] is used to solve this linear program. An

optimal solution of x

Ã

13

¼ x

Ã

34

¼ x

Ã

47

¼ x

Ã

78

¼ x

Ã

89

¼ 1, and x

Ã

12

¼ x

Ã

24

¼ x

Ã

25

¼ x

Ã

36

¼ x

Ã

46

¼ x

Ã

59

¼ x

Ã

68

¼ 0, with

S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297 1295

Ið

e

D

Ã

Þ ¼ 23:26267 is derived. That is, the most critical path is p

*

= {1 ! 3 ! 4 ! 7 ! 8 ! 9}. This solution is

the same as that listed in Chanas and Zielin´ski [8].

To verify this path is the critical one, we ﬁnd all paths for comparing their Yager’s ranking indices. There

are only six paths starting from Node 1 to Node 9:

p

1

¼ f1 ! 3 ! 4 ! 7 ! 8 ! 9g; p

2

¼ f1 ! 3 ! 6 ! 8 ! 9g;

p

3

¼ f1 ! 3 ! 4 ! 6 ! 8 ! 9g; p

4

¼ f1 ! 2 ! 5 ! 9g;

p

5

¼ f1 ! 2 ! 4 ! 6 ! 8 ! 9g; and p

6

¼ f1 ! 2 ! 4 ! 7 ! 8 ! 9g:

The ranking indices Ið

e

D

p

i

Þ; i ¼ 1; 2; . . . ; 6, calculated by using the Yager approach are 23.26267, 22.46267,

20.446, 13.3, 18.61267, and 21.42934, respectively. The maximum of these six ranking indices is

Ið

e

D

p

1

Þ ¼ 23:26267, indicating p

1

= {1 ! 3 ! 4 ! 7 ! 8 ! 9} is really the critical path that is the same as that

solved by the proposed approach.

Applying Eq. (8) stated in Section 3.3, setting the relative path degree of criticality of the most critical path

p

1

= {1 ! 3 ! 4 ! 7 ! 8 ! 9} to be 1, the relative path degrees of criticality of other paths can be calculated

as

deg

R

Cr

ðp

i

Þ ¼

Ið

e

D

p

i

Þ

Ið

e

D

p

1

Þ

; i ¼ 2; . . . ; 6:

The results are listed in descending order in Table 1.

5. Conclusion

CPM has been widely applied in managing complicated projects in real world applications. This paper

develops a simple approach to solve the CPM problem with fuzzy activity times that are more realistic than

crisp ones. On the basis of Yager’s ranking method, the fuzzy CPM problem is transformed to a crisp one

which can still be solved by using the conventional streamlined LP solution approaches. The obtained fuzzy

critical path is assured to be the most critical one from the viewpoint of Yager.

In this paper we also deﬁne the most critical path and the relative path degree of criticality of a path, which

are diﬀerent from those deﬁned by other studies, and they are theoretically sound and easy to use in practice.

Clearly, the proposed approach is not conﬁned to the fuzzy activity times of L-R type. Other types such as

L-L type, triangular type, and trapezoidal type are also applicable. Moreover, it is not require the knowledge

of the explicit form of the membership functions of the fuzzy activity times.

References

[1] L.J. Krajewski, L.P. Ritzman, Operations Management: Process and Value Chains, seventh ed., Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 2005.

[2] H.A. Taha, Operations Research: An Introduction, seventh ed., Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2003.

[3] P. Zielin´ ski, On computing the latest starting times and ﬂoats of activities in a network with imprecise durations, Fuzzy Sets Syst. 150

(2005) 53–76.

[4] A.I. Slyeptsov, T.A. Tyshchuk, Fuzzy critical path method for project network planning and control, Cybernet. Syst. Anal. 3 (1997)

158–170.

[5] A.I. Slyeptsov, T.A. Tyshchuk, Fuzzy temporal characteristics of operations for project management on the network models basis,

Eur. J. Oper. Res. 147 (2003) 253–265.

Table 1

The relative path degree of criticality in descending order

Path deg

R

Cr

ðp

i

Þ

p

1

= {1 ! 3 ! 4 ! 7 ! 8 ! 9} 1

p

2

= {1 ! 3 ! 6 ! 8 ! 9} 0.9574

p

6

= {1 ! 2 ! 4 ! 7 ! 8 ! 9} 0.9212

p

3

= {1 ! 3 ! 4 ! 6 ! 8 ! 9} 0.8789

p

5

= {1 ! 2 ! 4 ! 6 ! 8 ! 9} 0.8001

p

4

= {1 ! 2 ! 5 ! 9} 0.5717

1296 S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297

[6] D. Dubois, H. Fargier, V. Galvagnon, On latest starting times and ﬂoats in activity networks with ill-known durations, Eur. J. Oper.

Res. 147 (2003) 266–280.

[7] S. Chanas, D. Dubois, P. Zielin´ ski, On the sure criticality of tasks in activity networks with imprecise durations, IEEE Trans. Syst.

Man Cybernet. – Part B: Cybernetics 32 (2002) 393–407.

[8] S. Chanas, P. Zielin´ ski, Critical path analysis in the network with fuzzy activity times, Fuzzy Sets Syst. 122 (2001) 195–204.

[9] S. Chanas, P. Zielin´ ski, The computational complexity of the criticality problems in a network with interval activity times, Eur. J.

Oper. Res. 136 (2002) 541–550.

[10] S. Chanas, P. Zielin´ ski, On the hardness of evaluating criticality of activities in a planar network with duration intervals, Oper. Res.

Lett. 31 (2003) 53–59.

[11] D. Kuchta, Use of fuzzy numbers in project risk (criticality) assessment, Int. J. Project Manage. 19 (2001) 305–310.

[12] D.L. Mon, C.H. Cheng, H.C. Lu, Application of fuzzy distributions on project management, Fuzzy Sets Syst. 73 (1995) 227–234.

[13] S.H. Nasution, Fuzzy critical path method, IEEE Trans. Syst. Man Cybernet. 24 (1994) 48–57.

[14] H.J. Rommelfanger, Network analysis and information ﬂow in fuzzy environment, Fuzzy Sets Syst. 67 (1994) 119–128.

[15] A. Kaufmann, Introduction to the Theory of Fuzzy Subsets, vol. 1, Academic Press, New York, 1975.

[16] H.J. Zimmermann, Fuzzy Set Theory and Its Applications, fourth ed., Kluwer-Nijhoﬀ, Boston, 2001.

[17] P. Fortemps, M. Roubens, Ranking and defuzziﬁcation methods based on area compensation, Fuzzy Sets Syst. 82 (1996) 319–330.

[18] R.R. Yager, A procedure for ordering fuzzy subsets of the unit interval, Inform. Sci. 24 (1981) 143–161.

[19] C.B. Chen, C.M. Klein, A simple approach to ranking a group of aggregated fuzzy utilities, IEEE Trans. Syst. Man Cybernet. – Part

B: Cybernetics 27 (1997) 26–35.

[20] J.J. Buckley, T. Feuring, Evolutionary algorithm solution to fuzzy problems: fuzzy linear programming, Fuzzy Sets Syst. 109 (2000)

35–53.

[21] Lingo User’s Guide, LINDO Systems Inc., Chicago, 1999.

S.-P. Chen, Y.-J. Hsueh / Applied Mathematical Modelling 32 (2008) 1289–1297 1297

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