1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Time-table is a structured schedule of an event with time at which they occur, especially time of arrival and departure according to Adedokun J. B. (2014)
A time-table is an organised set of courses in a tabular form, which makes information available about a series of arranged events such as the time range for the event to take place, venues, invigilators and supervisors that will monitor how the event is carried out.
It will be very important for us to know that time resources is the most valuable asset in the world, which may result to failure if there is no proper planning, scheduling and management so time-table has come into existence which serves as solution to the world wide time planning and management challenges, which when applied appropriately will yield fulfilment of the aim.
School of Information and Communication Technology, Federal University of Technology, minna, applies manual approach in constructing an examination time-table. This is done by the examination officer, who ensures that examinations are conducted effectively and free of hitches. This is done by collecting all the list of courses that are offered by all the departments in the School of Information and Communication Technology. The examination officer uses this list to form a tentative Examination time-table. The time-table is liable to changes if there is any observation either from the staff or student in the faculty, if there are any clashes or omission of courses, it will be effected before the final time-table is released. This is always done two weeks before the commencement of the examination.
The manual construction of time-table (in Universities, Polytechnics, Monotechnics, colleges and other lower academic Institutions) is time consuming and particularly involve straining up of brain which may eventually result to some errors as it were, which may still demand for setting of another time-table with the mindset of attaining a desired and favourable Examination Time Table as the case may be. Computer solution to the problem can give more flexibility, make it easy to incorporate new requirements and save effort and it’s time conserving even as the world is approaching paperless era.
Examination time-table scheduling is an optimization problem to which either maximization or minimization of the available resources takes place depending on the choice. The variables are very large and combinatorial explosive and the primary aim is to schedule the Examination time-table such that a clash of schedule does not occur and the time-table should be a good one that is acceptable.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
For many years in the Faculty, time-table has always been generated using common type of time-table generation technique, which is the manual technique. However, there have been errors on the generated manual examination time table, these errors include the following: inability to spread courses evenly, clashes in the examination time-table (i.e. two courses offered by a student are assigned to the same period). Invigilators are also affected due to the fact that an invigilator may be assigned more than one courses at the same period.
Also, the officer in charge has his own challenges in the process of generating the examination time-table. The challenges are: stress involved during the process, time spent in the process which otherwise can be used for another productive work.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aim of this project is to Design and Implement a University Time-table System that will provide an effective and efficient way of generating Examination time-table.
The objectives of the project are:
- To study the existing method of examination time-table generation
- To design a system that will schedule courses, venues, invigilators and supervisors
- To implement the designed system
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Considering the importance and vital role Examination time table plays in the University system, this project will definitely be of tremendous benefit to the university. This project is very significant in the sense that it will assist the University timetabling team and the users of the Examination Time-table officer, the lecturers and the students who are the benefactors of the generated Examination time-table.
Some benefit of the generated Examination time-table is in providing best possible solutions that can foster/enhance: Productivity, Quality of services and Quality of Education.
This is achieved by providing the following listed features: User friendly program, better scheduled Exam Time-table, Error free time-table, easily generated time-table and Clash free time-table.
1.5 SCOPE OF STUDY
This project titled “DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AUNIVERSITY ELECTRONIC EXAMINATION TIME-TABLE SYSTEM (A CASE STUDY OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY)” intended to cover the School of Information and Communication Technology Examination Time-table, the main users are the officers in charge, the lecturers and the students. It will be limited to: Registration of Courses, Venues, Invigilators and Supervisors, and Generation of the Time-table as the system will handle inputted information and allocate them across the Time-table appropriately.
1.6 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This project research is limited only to the Examination timetabling process of the faculty, School of Information and Communication Technology, although the same procedure can as well be used for scheduling Lectures time-table. Reasons are due to the time factor and because it covers many fields.
In the course of this research work, the following limitations are encountered:
- Time-table for all courses offered by the Student of Federal University of Technology Minna, were not put into consideration
- Spill over courses were not put into consideration
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Examination: A formal test involving answering or writing in a particular place at set out time.
Optimization: the design and operation of a system or process to make it as good as possible
In some defined sense
Slot: A space where some information will display such as Time, Courses, Invigilators, Venues etc
Simulated: Made to imitate manual outlook
Automation: The act of converting the controlling of a system or approach into an electronic controls by using computer
2.0 INTRODUCTION TO TIME-TABLE SYSTEM
The techniques used in producing a time-table and the history of time-table especially those at university level will be discuss as much as possible in this chapter.
Examination time-table which requires some specific resources such as: Courses, Venues, Invigilators, and Supervisors is said to be the entire schedule of a precise Examination, which will be attended to by a group of students and some invigilators and supervisors at a set period of time. The resources made available are parallel to scheduling besides satisfying other requirements, Souza (2000). The ideology of co-ordinating and controlling the environment activities was what brought about the idea of Examination Time-table which is being utilize in all Institution of learning today.
The main aim of Time-tabling process includes satisfying certain set of constraints with respect to variables like Venues, number of invigilators, time slots, number of courses etc. The researchers has been observing problems of Time-tabling since two decades but unfortunately no 100% optimized results has been published in any literature. The reason for this is the dynamic scenario of constraints and datasets used for the experiments.
Also, the problem of automated generation of efficient Time-tabling system has been under keen study for many years. The section will attempt to visualize the effective research work done with proper classification of techniques as below
2.1 HISTORY OF TIME-TABLE
There is no certain date to the origination of time-table, because in the early years before, during and after the death of Christ, time-table were set and taught every time but the origin was dated back as far back as 3500 years B. C. the Sumerians were the first people to find out that it is necessary to be educated and this led to the first time-table where tutorials were set by word of mouth. With this system, dates were set which brought about issues of venues, clashes of courses, dates falling on public holidays due to planning deficiency.
The time-table system then metamorphose to another level which was the manual or paper time-table construction system using tables which is made up of rows and columns, here the dates and courses could be seen thereby reducing the flaw of the first system. It was not totally effective as writing of the data on paper and racking of the brain made it to be time consuming, stressful and inaccurate due to human prone errors of data feeding, improper data which led to omission of courses and clashing of courses which affected students which resulted to carryover of course(s).
The idea of improving on the flaw of the first and second time-table system is what leads to the present time-table system and most efficient way of tracking and abolishing these problems by making it automated through the use of computers to store and feed in data, reproducing it by stimulating time-table construction and storing the data in input files and using any type of software to generate the time-table accurately thereby making it hitch free. The theory behind time-table construction lies on how to arrange events in best order to minimize and avoid conflicts.
2.2 TIME-TABLE PROBLEM SOLVING PROCEDURES
Many different methods have been developed and used successfully to solve real timetabling problems and these problems range from the construction of semester or annual time-table on schools, colleges and universities; virtually in all cases though; these methods are rarely properly compared with each other. Accurate comparison is vital to determining which the best computational methods are given various types of timetabling data. When the techniques used were relatively simple, they were fairly easy to reproduce. As timetabling techniques become more sophisticated, many approaches and models have been proposed for dealing with the variety of timetabling problems (Bardadyn 1996). Which include:
2.2.1 RANDOMIZED ALGORITHM
Randomized search algorithms, uses random choice to guide through the problem search space process. But these are not just simply random walks. These techniques are not directionless like the random search algorithms. They use the knowledge gained from previous results in the search and combine them with some randomizing features. The result is a powerful search technique that can handle noisy, multimodal (having multiple peaks) search spaces with some relative efficiency. The two most popular forms of randomized search algorithms are simulate annealing and genetic algorithms
Randomized Algorithm simply performs random walks of the problem space, recording the best optimum values discovered so far. Efficiency is a problem here as well. For large problem spaces, they should perform no better than enumerative searches. They do not use any knowledge gained from previous results and thus are both dumb and blind.
Heuristics Approach is one of the first automation approach used in scheduling problems. It attempts to obtain the best solution selection despite there being no guarantee to that effect. Souza et al (2004), attempts to arrange classes suitable to the lecturer that no lecturer will lecture in two classes at the same time slot, which can also be translated to examination scheduling, in a format in which no invigilator or student will be attending to more than one course in a particular range of time. Bresina (1996) was among the early researchers who use this approach, he made several modification in the manual approach conducted at universities. Heuristic search was used for solving scheduling (Joshua and Graham, 2008).
- 2. 2 GENETIC ALGORITHMS
Genetic Algorithms (GA) are a class of stochastic search algorithms that mimic natural selection by using a computational version of the survival of the fittest (Sanchez, Shibata and Zadeh, 1997). It is a problem solving method that uses genetics as its model for problem solving, applying reproduction, general crossover and mutation to these pseudo-organisms so they can pass beneficial and survival-enhancing traits to new generations (Chambers, 1995). Genetic Algorithm (GA) was powerful to solve assignment problem (Lukas et al, 2005). GA was also used for creating University Examination Time-table (Burle, et al, 1994).
The main distinction that exist in genetic and heuristic approach is that; the role of genetic algorithm is to determine the sequence of all courses to be scheduled in one group, whereas the role of heuristic search is to determine time slots used to schedule the courses (Thanh, 2007)
2.2.3 SIMULATED ANNEALING
Simulated Annealing is a randomized optimization method, which accepts deteriorations of the objective function with a probability depending on a control parameter, based on a physical analogy (Rodrigues and Anjo, 1993). S A has been verified to be a good technique for solving hard combinatorial optimization problems. It was introduced by David et al (1991), whereby it was a local search technique that maximizes the probability to transpire universal concentration.
2.2.4 TABU SEARCH
Tabu Search (TS) is a meta-heuristic technique that guides a local heuristic search procedure to explore the solution space beyond local optimality (Glover and Laguna, 1997). A meta-heuristic refers to a master strategy that guides and modifies the heuristics to produce the solutions beyond those that are normally generated in a quest for local optimality (Glover and Laguna, 1997). Due to its shrinking of the search space TS normally generates solution much faster than a SA method. Tabu Search was introduced by White (2000) towards obtaining optimal solution for any complication. Minghe (2006) also utilized this technique to obtain high optimal solution for combination optimization difficulties.
As stated by Samuel, Arnold and Milyandreana (2012) “Genetic algorithm and heuristic search are able to solve time-table problem. Although, room has not been included in target matrix, system is able to determine which is used to a certain cell in time-table”.
Anirudha, Manisha and Abhijeet (2012) stated that “The Heuristic Algorithm incorporates a number of techniques aimed to improve the efficiency of the search operation. It also, addresses the important hard constraint of clashes between the availability of teachers, the non-rigid soft constraints i.e. optimization objectives for the search operation are also effectively handled”
The resolution of conflicts in the exam time-table keeps the Person(s) busy for some weeks after the scheduling of the first exam time table. The first copy is normally pasted for the view of all student offering the courses, in case of any complains and observation, if there is any, the examiner will make sure justice is done, (i.e. to reschedule the exam time-table).
This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research
DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A UNIVERSITY ELECTRONIC EXAMINATION TIME TABLE>
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