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TU Berlin

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Examination Timetabling

In the summer term 2010, the Technical University in Berlin started to generate optimal timetables for the examinations of the bachelor's degree programs. Before optimizing the exam timetables, more than 25% of the examinations where in scheduled with other exams relevant to at least some of the same students. Among those were the most commonly taken exams of the university so that the problem affected a large number of students. With our optimization methods, we were the first to automatically generate a conflict-free examination schedule for a university of this magnitude, taking into account the date preferences of the staff who organize exams.

Example of an examination timetable for one lecture hall
Screenshot of a user interface that displays an examination timetable in the timtabling software Moses

Faculty staff specify specify how many participants are expected an which rooms and dates they prefer their exam to be scheduled in.

After the exam organizers have completed and confirmed their input, the administrator starts the optimizations tool which generates the conflict-free exam timetable for the entire university at once. Specifically, no exams relevant to the same group of students will be scheduled on the same day. To allow for appropriate preparation time, they are not scheduled on consecutive days, either. The resulting timetable is the verifiably optimal solution to this particular optimization problem.

After generation, the timetable is published internally for the exam organizers to see. They then have an opportunity to propose alterations to the times their exams were scheduled on. To give them an overview and increase transparency, they can access a calendar view which will highlight alternative time slots (if any) that an exam can be moved to without creating new time conflicts for students.

Successful timetabling in numbers

At TU Berlin, during the 2015/16 winter term, 89% of examinations for which a specific date had been requested by the organizers could be scheduled in accordance with the request. An additional 4% were either scheduled the day before or the day after. Only 7% were scheduled on dates that were more than one day away from the requested one.

Furthermore, ever since the introduction of Moses examination timetabling, there have been no more time conflicts between mandatory examinations of the same study program. One day of preparation time could also be guaranteed. Both was not always the case before.

Research

The examination timetabling with Moses is based on the following research conducted here at innoCampus:

LACH, G.; LACH, M.; ZORN, E. Examination timetabling at Technische Universität Berlin. MISTA, 2015, S. 260-266.

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

Auxiliary Functions