A heuristic approach to simultaneous course/student timetabling

Christopher Head, Sami Shaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Many approaches have been taken in academic environments to address the problem of student and course timetabling. Typically, student scheduling and course scheduling have been treated as separate tasks. Our approach is to build the schedule and place the students into classes simultaneously. That is, to collect all constraints and requirements, quantify them, and build a schedule based on heuristic functions, as we populate it with students. Heuristic functions are also used to order the processing of students. After the schedule is built, we endeavour to further optimise it using additional heuristic-based operations. An initial parallel implementation of the system was performed alongside the manual system followed by live runs in recent semesters. The system has been successfully adopted by the United Arab Emirates University's University General Requirements Unit since the semester starting February 2001. The schedules created have been well accepted by the students and the administration as they have made good use of the students' time while making near-optimal use of the University's physical and human resources. The scheduling system is written in Visual Basic with embedded SQL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-933
Number of pages15
JournalComputers and Operations Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • Cost based
  • Heuristic
  • Relational database
  • Scheduling
  • Simultaneous
  • Timetabling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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