Annals of Operations Research

, Volume 239, Issue 1, pp 153–170 | Cite as

Real-life curriculum-based timetabling with elective courses and course sections

  • Tomáš MüllerEmail author
  • Hana Rudová


This paper presents an innovative approach to curriculum-based timetabling. To capture complex relations of real life curriculum-based timetabling problems, curricula are defined by a rich model that includes optional courses and course groups among which students are expected to take a subset of courses. In addition, courses may contain alternative course sections. A transformation between the proposed curriculum model and student course enrollments is formalized and a local search algorithm generating corresponding enrollments is introduced. While the proposed curriculum model is too complicated for existing curriculum-based solvers, the transformation enables curriculum-based timetabling in any existing enrollment-based course timetabling solver. The approach was implemented in a well established enrollment-based course timetabling system UniTime. The system has been successfully applied in practice at the Faculty of Education at Masaryk University for about 7,500 students and 260 curricula and at the Faculty of Sports Studies at Masaryk University for about 1,400 students and 25 curricula. Experimental results related with these problems are demonstrated for two semesters.


Course timetabling Curriculum-based timetabling Local search UniTime 



We would like to thank Keith Murray for careful proofreading of this paper and for his valuable comments. This work is supported by the Grant Agency of Czech Republic under the contract P202\(/\)12\(/\)0306. The access to the MetaCentrum computing facilities provided under the program “Projects of Large Infrastructure for Research, Development, and Innovations” LM2010005 funded by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports of the Czech Republic is highly appreciated.


  1. Bonutti, A., De Cesco, F., Di Gaspero, L., & Schaerf, A. (2012). Benchmarking curriculum-based course timetabling: Formulations, data formats, instances, validation, visualization, and results. Annals of Operations Research, 194(1), 59–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burke, E. K., & Petrovic, S. (2002). Recent research directions in automated timetabling. European Journal of Operational Research, 140, 266–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Di Gaspero L, McCollum B, Schaerf A (2007) The second international timetabling competition (ITC-2007): Curriculum-based course timetabling (track 3). Tech. Rep. QUB/IEEE/Tech/ITC2007/CurriculumCTT/v1.0, University, Belfast, UK.Google Scholar
  4. Dueck, G. (1993). New optimization heuristics: The great deluge algorithm and the record-to record travel. Journal of Computational Physics, 104, 86–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hertz, A. (1991). Tabu search for large scale timetabling problems. European Journal of Operational Research, 54(1), 39–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hoos HH, Stützle T (2005) Stochastic local search foundations and applications. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  7. Lewis, R. (2008). A survey of metaheuristic-based techniques for university timetabling problems. OR Spectrum, 30(1), 167–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lewis R, Paechter B, McCollum B (2007) Post enrolment based course timetabling: A description of the problem model used for track two of the second international timetabling competition. Cardiff Working Papers in Accounting and Finance A2007-3, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University.Google Scholar
  9. McCollum B (2007) A perspective on bridging the gap between theory and practice in university timetabling. In: E. Burke, H. Rudová (Eds.), Practice and theory of automated timetabling VI, LNCS 3867 (pp. 3–23). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  10. Müller, T., & Murray, K. (2010). Comprehensive approach to student sectioning. Annals of Operations Research, 181, 249–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Post, G., Ahmadi, S., Daskalaki, S., Kingston, J. H., Kyngas, J., Nurmi, C., et al. (2012). An XML format for benchmarks in high school timetabling. Annals of Operations Research, 194(1), 385–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rudová H, Müller T (2011) Rapid development of university course timetables. In Proceedings of the 5th multidisciplinary international scheduling conference—MISTA 2011 (pp. 649–652).Google Scholar
  13. Rudová, H., Müller, T., & Murray, K. (2011). Complex university course timetabling. Journal of Scheduling, 14(2), 187–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Space Management and Academic SchedulingPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of InformaticsMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations