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Title: Enhancing the performance of search heuristics : variable fitness functions and other methods to enhance heuristics for dynamic workforce scheduling
Author: Remde, Stephen Mark
ISNI:       0000 0004 2707 2303
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2009
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Scheduling large real world problems is a complex process and finding high quality solutions is not a trivial task. In cooperation with Trimble MRM Ltd., who provide scheduling solutions for many large companies, a problem is identified and modelled. It is a general model which encapsulates several important scheduling, routing and resource allocation problems in literature. Many of the state-of-the-art heuristics for solve scheduling problems and indeed other problems require specialised heuristics tailored for the problem they are to solve. While these provide good solutions a lot of expert time is needed to study the problem, and implement solutions. This research investigates methods to enhance existing search based methods. We study hyperheuristic techniques as a general search based heuristic. Hyperheuristics raise the generality of the solution method by using a set of tools (low level heuristics) to work on the solution. These tools are problem specific and usually make small changes to the problem. It is the task of the hyperheuristic to determine which tool to use and when. Low level heuristics using exact/heuristic hybrid method are used in this thesis along with a new Tabu based hyperheuristic which decreases the amount of CPU time required to produce good quality solutions. We also develop and investigate the Variable Fitness Function approach, which provides a new way of enhancing most search-based heuristics in terms of solution quality. If a fitness function is pushing hard in a certain direction, a heuristic may ultimately fail because it cannot escape local minima. The Variable Fitness Function allows the fitness function to change over the search and use objective measures not used in the fitness calculation. The Variable Fitness Function and its ability to generalise are extensively tested in this thesis. The two aims of the thesis are achieved and the methods are analysed in depth. General conclusions and areas of future work are also identified.
Supervisor: Cowling, Peter I. ; Dahal, Keshav P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Scheduling ; Search heuristics ; Variable fitness functions ; Dynamic workforce scheduling ; Modelling ; Hyperheuristics