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Robust Local Search for Solving RCPSP/max with Durational Uncertainty

Na Fu
Hoong Chuin Lau
Pradeep Varakantha
Fei Xiao
Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, vol. 43 (2012), pp. 43-86


Scheduling problems in manufacturing, logistics and project management have frequently been modeled using the framework of Resource Constrained Project Scheduling Problems with minimum and maximum time lags (RCPSP/max). Due to the importance of these problems, providing scalable solution schedules for RCPSP/max problems is a topic of extensive research. However, all existing methods for solving RCPSP/max assume that durations of activities are known with certainty, an assumption that does not hold in real world scheduling problems where unexpected external events such as manpower availability, weather changes, etc. lead to delays or advances in completion of activities. Thus, in this paper, our focus is on providing a scalable method for solving RCPSP/max problems with durational uncertainty. To that end, we introduce the robust local search method consisting of three key ideas: (a) Introducing and studying the properties of two decision rule approximations used to compute start times of activities with respect to dynamic realizations of the durational uncertainty; (b) Deriving the expression for robust makespan of an execution strategy based on decision rule approximations; and (c) A robust local search mechanism to efficiently compute activity execution strategies that are robust against durational uncertainty. Furthermore, we also provide enhancements to local search that exploit temporal dependencies between activities. Our experimental results illustrate that robust local search is able to provide robust execution strategies efficiently.

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