by Hana Rudová
The 6th International Conference on Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling (PATAT) was organised by the Faculty of Informatics at Masaryk University, a member of the Czech Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (CRCIM). The conference took place in Brno, Czech Republic from 30 August to 1 September and was attended by almost a hundred delegates from 23 countries.
The PATAT conferences, which are held every two years, bring together researchers and practitioners in all aspects of computer-aided timetable generation. This includes university timetabling, school timetabling, personnel rostering, transportation timetabling, sports scheduling and other areas of the subject. These timetabling problems are common to many of us. The classical example is the construction of the timetable for some school. It corresponds to an assignment of the time and room to each course. Such a generated timetable must satisfy requests given by student programs, teachers and students. Another important problem can be introduced by timetabling of the nurses at hospitals. Here the goal is to find nurses for each shift such that the needs of the hospital and its employees are satisfied. A very commom problem, solutions for which were also explored by the conference, is sport league or tournament scheduling. The goal is to find team-mates, dates and placement of the games within constraints such as the availability of venues, the order of opponents, or travel time and distance.
The conference in the Czech Republic was a very successful continuation of former conferences organised in the USA, Belgium, Germany, Canada and the UK. Programme chairs of the conference were Edmund Burke from the University of Nottingham and Hana Rudová from the organising university. The programme of this year's conference featured seventy presentations representing the state of the art in automated timetabling. This included four plenary papers, seventeen full papers, 41 extended abstracts, and eight system demonstrations. Plenary presentations discussed physician scheduling in emergency rooms (Michel Gendreau, Université de Montréal), differences between theory and practice in university timetabling (Barry McCollum, Queen's University and eventMAP Ltd), search techniques in timetabling (James Orlin, MIT), and state of the art in timetabling experimentation (Andrea Schaerf, Università di Udine).
The conference proceedings were published by Masaryk University Press and selected and revised papers will be published in Lecture Notes in Computer Science by Springer-Verlag.
Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University