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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

A graph formulation of a school scheduling algorithm

The problem classically titled “The Examination Schedule Problem” takes various forms in the literature. Most of these formulations can be presented in the terminology of classical Network Theory. One such formulation is: Given a nondirected network, partition its nodes into a minimal number of subsets such that no two members of the same subset are connected by an arc. An obvious lower limit to this number is the size of the largest strongly connected subgraph. Kirchgassner proved that an upper limit is this size plus one. One logical extension of the previous work is the introduction of variable length examinations where W(I) is the number of periods for exam I. The object of this paper is to generalize the definition of largest strongly connected subgraph to include the weighting of nodes, to present an approximate algorithm which usually finds the largest strongly connected subgraph, and to discuss the application of this algorithm to the solution of school scheduling and exam scheduling problems.

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