Information Visualization for Highlighting Conflicts in Educational Timetabling Problems

  • Wanderley de Souza AlencarEmail author
  • Hugo Alexandre Dantas do Nascimento
  • Walid Abdala Rfaei Jradi
  • Fabrizzio Alphonsus A. M. N. Soares
  • Juliana Paula Felix
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11844)


Scheduling is a very important problem in many organizations, such as hospitals, transportation companies, sports confederations and educational institutions. Obtaining a good schedule results in the maximization of some desired benefit. In particular, in educational institutions (from elementary school to universities) this problem is periodically experienced, either during the preparation of class-teacher or examination timetabling. When a solution proposal is being elaborated (manual, semi-automatic or automatic processes), it is common the occurrence of the phenomenon called conflict, clash or collision. It is characterized by the simultaneous use of a resource (human or material) that can not be shared and, therefore, its occurrence makes that proposal impracticable for adoption. In semi-automatic systems, it is common the identification of such problems and, through user interaction, its resolution. Automatic systems, on the other hand, try to identify/solve conflicts without user intervention. Despite this, conflicts are not easy to resolve. This article proposes the use of information visualization techniques as an approach to highlight the occurrence of conflicts and, using user hints, contribute to its resolution, aiming at obtaining better quality timetables for practical adoption. The proposed visualizations were evaluated in order to determine its expressiveness and effectiveness, considering four aspects: coverage of the research questions, efficiency of the adopted visual mapping, supported level of human interaction and scalability. A conceptual qualitative study showed that the use of these techniques can aim users, mainly non-specialized, to identify conflicts and improve the desired educational timetables.


Timetabling Problem Scheduling Problem Educational Conflict Clash Collision Violation Information Visualization User Hints User-driven Interactive application 


  1. 1.
    Abdelraouf, I., Abdennadher, S., Gervet, C.: A visual entity-relationship model for constraint-based university timetabling. In: Abreu, S., et al. (eds.) Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Applications of Declarative Programming and Knowledge Management (INAP 2011), pp. 183–194, September 2011Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alencar, W.S., Nascimento, H.D., Soares, F.A.A.M.N., Longo, H.J.: Visualization methods for educational timetabling problems: a systematic review of literature. In: Proceedings of the 14th International Joint Conference on Computer Vision, Imaging and Computer Graphics Theory and Applications (IVAPP), vol. 3, pp. 275–281. INSTICC, SciTePress, February 2019.
  3. 3.
    Elloumi, A., Kamoun, H., Jarboui, B., Dammak, A.: The classroom assignment problem: complexity, size reduction and heuristics. Appl. Soft Comput. 14, 677–686 (2014). Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fui, Y.T., Onn, C.W., Yeen, C.W., Meian, K.H.: Graph-based conflict rectification using stroke gesture approach in timetabling system (corects). In: Baharom, F., Mahmuddin, M., Yusof, Y., Ishak, W.H.W., Saip, M.A. (eds.) Proceedings of the 5th Knowledge Management International Conference (KMICE 2010), Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, pp. 618–623, May 2010Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Garey, M.R., Johnson, D.S., Stockmeyer, L.: Some simplified NP-complete problems. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, STOC 1974, pp. 47–63. ACM, New York (1974).
  6. 6.
    Houhamdi, Z., Athamena, B., Abuzaineddin, R., Muhairat, M.: A multi-agent system for course timetable generation. TEM J. 8, 211–221 (2019). Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kochhar, S., Marks, J., Friedell, M.: Interaction paradigms for human-computer cooperation in graphical-object modeling. In: Proceedings of Graph Interface 1991, GI 1991, pp. 180–191. Morgan Kaufmann (1991).
  8. 8.
    Leite, N., Melicio, F., Rosa, A.C.: A fast simulated annealing algorithm for the examination timetabling problem. Expert Syst. Appl. 122, 137–151 (2019). Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nascimento, H.A.D., Eades, P.: User hints: a framework for interactive optimization. Future Gener. Comp. Syst. 21(7), 1177–1191 (2005). Scholar
  10. 10.
    Oude Vrielink, R.A., Jansen, E.A., Hans, E.W., van Hillegersberg, J.: Practices in timetabling in higher education institutions: a systematic review. Ann. Oper. Res. 275(1), 145–160 (2019). Scholar
  11. 11.
    Piechowiak, S., Ma, J., Mandiau, R.: An open interactive timetabling tool. In: Burke, E., Trick, M. (eds.) PATAT 2004. LNCS, vol. 3616, pp. 34–50. Springer, Heidelberg (2005). Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pillay, N.: A survey of school timetabling research. Ann. Oper. Res. 218(1), 261–293 (2014). Scholar
  13. 13.
    Thomas, J.J., Belaton, B., Khader, A.T., Justtina: Visual analytics solution for scheduling processing phases. In: Vasant, P., Zelinka, I., Weber, G.W. (eds.) ICO 2018. AISC, vol. 866, pp. 395–408. Springer, Cham (2019).
  14. 14.
    Thomas, J.J., Khader, A.T., Belaton, B.: A visual analytics framework for the examination timetabling problem. In: Fifth International Conference on Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualisation, pp. 305–310, August 2008.
  15. 15.
    Thomas, J.J., Khader, A.T., Belaton, B.: A parallel coordinates visualization for the uncapaciated examination timetabling problem. In: Badioze Zaman, H., et al. (eds.) IVIC 2011, Part I. LNCS, vol. 7066, pp. 87–98. Springer, Heidelberg (2011). Scholar
  16. 16.
    Thomas, J.J., Khader, A.T., Belaton, B., Christy, E.: Visual interface tools to solve real-world examination timetabling problem. In: Seventh International Conference on Computer Graph, Imaging and Visualization, pp. 167–172 (2010).
  17. 17.
    Thomas, J.J., Khader, A.T., Belaton, B., Ken, C.C.: Integrated problem solving steering framework on clash reconciliation strategies for university examination timetabling problem. In: Huang, T., Zeng, Z., Li, C., Leung, C.S. (eds.) ICONIP 2012, Part IV. LNCS, vol. 7666, pp. 297–304. Springer, Heidelberg (2012). Scholar
  18. 18.
    Thomas, J.J., Khader, A.T., Belaton, B., Leow, J.: VIZSolution: an interface tool to solve real-world examination timetabling problem. Int. J. Adv. Comp. Tech. 2(5), 80–88 (2010). Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wehrer, A., Yellen, J.: The design and implementation of an interactive course-timetabling system. Ann. Oper. Res. 218(1), 327–345 (2014). Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wren, A.: Scheduling, timetabling and rostering — a special relationship? In: Burke, E., Ross, P. (eds.) PATAT 1995. LNCS, vol. 1153, pp. 46–75. Springer, Heidelberg (1996). Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de InformáticaUniversidade Federal de GoiásGoiâniaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceSouthern Oregon UniversityAshlandUSA

Personalised recommendations