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Solving the Examination Timetabling Problem in GPUs

Vasileios Kolonias, George Goulas, Christos Gogos, Panayiotis Alefragis, Efthymios Housos
Computer Systems Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,University of Patras, GR-26504 Patras, Greece
Algorithms, 7(3), 295-327, 2014

@article{kolonias2014solving,

   title={Solving the Examination Timetabling Problem in GPUs},

   author={Kolonias, Vasileios and Goulas, George and Gogos, Christos and Alefragis, Panayiotis and Housos, Efthymios},

   journal={Algorithms},

   volume={7},

   number={3},

   pages={295–327},

   year={2014},

   publisher={Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute}

}

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The examination timetabling problem belongs to the class of combinatorial optimization problems and is of great importance for every University. In this paper, a hybrid evolutionary algorithm running on a GPU is employed to solve the examination timetabling problem. The hybrid evolutionary algorithm proposed has a genetic algorithm component and a greedy steepest descent component. The GPU computational capabilities allow the use of very large population sizes, leading to a more thorough exploration of the problem solution space. The GPU implementation, depending on the size of the problem, is up to twenty six times faster than the identical single-threaded CPU implementation of the algorithm. The algorithm is evaluated with the well known Toronto datasets and compares well with the best results found in the bibliography. Moreover, the selection of the encoding of the chromosomes and the tournament selection size as the population grows are examined and optimized. The compressed sparse row format is used for the conflict matrix and was proven essential to the process, since most of the datasets have a small conflict density, which translates into an extremely sparse matrix.
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