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Title: Interactive Visualisations to Improve Exam Timetabling Systems
Author: Ranson, David John
ISNI:       0000 0001 3507 8973
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2008
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This work explores the use of Interactive Visualisations to solve Exam Timetabling problems by making use of new graphical representations and interactions. Exam Timetabling is a. well researched topic in optimisation, however existing automated solutions are limited in terms of interactivity and generality. In cognitive science relevant literature shows how different representations can affect the outcome of problem solving tasks yet existing timetabling systems and research focus almost exclusively on automated approaches. not making use of available human abilities. These shortcomings of current approaches are addressed. raising the questions: Can effective representations be used to completely solve Exam Timetabling problems without use of computer automation and can such representations be effectively integrated with existing approaches? Previous research suggests that closely mapped expressive representations can be effective problem solving tools. In this research representational design methodologies were applied to develop two systems capable ofsolving complete problems. rather thanjust improving existing solutions. VAST (Visual Analysis and Scheduling for Tl1Detabling) provides interactive visualisations to solve Exam Timetabling Problems and introduces novel Cluster Group visualisations to simplify the problem faced by users. KNIGHT (Knowledge Interactive Guided Heuristic Timetabling) extends these interactive visualisations to include human in the loop interactivity integrated with existing automated heuristics. The application of mobilities to the domain of Exam Timeta~ling allow heuristic searches to be guided toward new solutions, expanding potential search neighbourhoods whilst excluding solutions that are perceived to be problematic. An evaluation of KNIGHT is presented which discusses this approach. The evaluation of VAST provides positive evidence for the use of interactive visualisation as an integral part of the problem solving process and our analysis shows the discovery of different user strategies that make use of these new interactions and representations. Whilst the use of exam clusters appears beneficial no significant benefits were found from allowing initial exam assignments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available