Hot on the heels of our announcement that EventMAP have been awarded a Nottingham University Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant we also have another piece of news, which will be of interest to timetablers and anyone following the emerging field of ‘fairness’ in timetabling.
Ahmad Muklason, a PhD student at Nottingham, has just had his recent paper Fairness in Examination Timetabling: Student Preferences and Extended Formulations accepted for publication in the journal Applied Soft Computing. Along with colleagues from the University of Nottingham, EventMAP directors Dr. Barry McCollum and Dr Paul McMullan have helped supervise and direct this work, which draws on extensive surveying of student populations to identify a primary concern – fairness with respect to the examination timetables of students’ immediate peers – and develops methodologies to provide extensions to state-of-the-art examination timetabling problem models that allow for the incorporation of a measure of fairness.
It’s a paper that makes some important advances in the field and will provide timetablers everywhere with some useful insight into how much more ‘intelligent’ their software tools will become over the next few years. From EventMAP’s end, it shows that we’re still very involved, at all levels within the company, in leading and advancing the research field.
In the case of higher education, we feel that introducing the concept of subjective ‘fairness’ into the workings of our products is an important step to improving the overall satisfaction levels of teachers, students and university staff with their day-to-day work. So, for example, those sometimes unavoidable, less-than-ideal compromises in timetables – which timetablers will know as violations of soft constraints – can be distributed in an equitable way amongst affected parties while still maintaining a maximally efficient timetable. It should go without saying that this incorporation of fairness measures into our work will greatly increase the value we can bring to improving student experience and staff satisfaction levels for our academic clients.
You can download a copy of the paper here.
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