Response time variability is a new optimization problem with a broad range of applications and a distinctive number of theoretic flavour. The problem occurs whenever events, jobs, clients or products need to be sequenced so as to minimize the variability of time for which they wait for the next turn in obtaining the resources necessary for their advance. The problem has numerous real-life applications. We study its computational complexity, present efficiency, polynomial time algorithms for some cases, and the NP-hardness proof for a general problem. We propose a position exchange heuristic and apply it to improve the total response time variability of an initial sequence. The latter is the optimum bottleneck sequence, Webster or Jefferson sequence of the apportionment, or a random sequence. We report on computational experiments with the heuristic.
KeywordsResponse time variability Isochronous applications Mixed-model assembly lines Combinatorial optimisation Heuristics
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