A systematic two phase approach for the nurse rostering problem
|Main Author:||Βαλουξής, Χρήστος|
Nurse rostering is an NP-hard combinatorial problem which makes it extremely difficult to efficiently solve real life problems due to their size and complexity. Usually real problem instances have complicated work rules related to safety and quality of service issues in addition to rules about quality of life of the personnel. For the aforementioned reasons computer supported scheduling and rescheduling for the particular problem is indispensable. The specifications of the problem addressed were defined by the First International Nurse Rostering Competition (INRC2010) sponsored by the leading conference in the Automated Timetabling domain, PATAT-2010. Since the competition imposed quality and time constraint requirements, the problem instances were partitioned into sub-problems of manageable computational size and were then solved sequentially using Integer Mathematical Programming. A two phase strategy was implemented where in the first phase the workload for each nurse and for each day of the week was decided while in the second phase the specific daily shifts were assigned. In addition, local optimization techniques for searching across combinations of nurses’ partial schedules were also applied. This sequence is repeated several times depending on the available computational time. The results of our approach and the submitted software produced excellent solutions for both the known and the hidden problem instances, which in respect gave our team the first position in all tracks of the INRC-2010 competition.