Solving the University course timetabling problem using bat inspired algorithm
Keywords:Combinatorial optimization,, Timetabling problem, Metaheuristic algorithms, Bat algorithm
Many mathematical optimization problems from real-life applications are NP-hard, and hence no algorithm that solves them to optimality within a reasonable time is known. For this reason, metaheuristic methods are mostly preferred when their size is big. Many meta-heuristic methods have been proposed to solve various combinatorial optimization problems. One of the newly introduced metaheuristic methods is a bat-inspired algorithm, which is based on the echolocation behaviour of microbats. Bat algorithm (BA) and its variants have been used successfully to solve several optimization problems. However, from the No-free Lunch Theorem, it is known that there is no universal metaheuristic method that can solve efficiently all optimization problems. Thus, this study work focused on investigating the usefulness of BA in solving an optimization problem called Course Teaching Problem (CTP). Since BA was originally designed to solve continuous problems, and CTP is a combinatorial optimization problem, a discrete version of BA for CPT has been proposed and tested using real-life data from the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE). The algorithm has produced promising results, as in each execution test, it generated a timetable in which all hard constraints were met and soft constraints were significantly satisfied within a few iterations.
Keywords: Combinatorial optimization, Timetabling problem, Metaheuristic algorithms, Bat algorithm.