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TU Berlin

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Enrollment-Based Course Timetabling

At the Technical University of Berlin, in addition to lectures, there are often exercises in small groups, the so-called tutorials. They are held mostly by student assistants, the tutors. As part of the restructuring of the mathematics courses in 2003, the number of different mathematics courses decreased significantly. By the same token, the number of participants perper course increased. As a consequence, various organizational tasks became more complicated, for example, the assignment of students to tutorials. The grouping of up to 2,300 students per class into smaller groups posed a big challenge for which the old methods proved ineffective and inefficient.

Therefore, a new process for the enrolment-based course timetabling was developped here at innoCampus. Shortly before the beginning of each semester, the organizers of the participating courses insert all the information needed for sound planning, such as possible and impossible time slots for tutorials and their preferred rooms, using a web interface. Afterwards, the students enroll in tutorials online, stating their time preferences for their classes. This data is collected on a specific date and evaluated so that all interested students get assigned spots in tutorials that are not in conflict with their schedule. Among all the different feasible solutions, our algorithm determines the one in which the time preferences of all students is considered best overall.

Planning a new tutorial with Moses post-enrollment timetabling
The user interface used by faculty staff to plan a new tutorial using Moses post-enrollment timetabling.

Statistics for the Enrollment-Based Timetabling

The enrollment-based course timetabling with Moses has been in use at TU Berlin since the winter term of 2004/05. We first started with the coordination of the tutorials of the five largest mathematics courses, which featured a total of 163 tutorials. Although participation in the enrollment-based scheduling of tutorials is voluntary for organizers, the number of participating classes has been steadily increasing. In the winter semester of 2016/17, 87 courses took part with 1,156 tutorials to be scheduled and nearly 10,000 students enrolling in them. This way, the largest classes at TU Berlin now participate in the post-enrollment timetabling.

 

At TU Berlin, 92% of lecturer’s room preferences could be met for the summer term of 2016. The remaining 8% of classes were assigned rooms which had been listed as second priorities by the teaching staff. In 100% of cases, tutorials were held in rooms that met all the stated requirements.

 

 

Furthermore, students could almost entirely be assigned to classes at their preferred times. Only about 2% of students were allocated tutorials and practicals at unwanted times.

Research

The post-enrollment timetabling with Moses is based on the following research conducted here at innoCampus:

HÖNER, J.; LACH, G.; ZORN, E. An IP-based model for the post-enrollment-based course timetabling problem at TU Berlin. MISTA, 2015, S. 331-344.