Scheduling lectures and practical timetables for a large array of courses is a very complex problem which often has to be solved manually by the center staff even though results are not always fully optimal. Timetabling being a highly constrained combinational (pertaining to the combinations and arrangements of elements in sets) problem. This work attempts to put into play the effectiveness of evolutionary techniques based on Darwin’s theories to solve the timetabling problem if not fully optimal but near optimal. Genetic Algorithm is a popular meta-heuristic that has been successfully applied to many hard combinational optimization problems. In this work, the course sets, halls and time allocations are represented by a multi dimensional array on which a local search is performed and a combination of the direct representation of the timetable with heuristic crossover is made to ensure that fundamental constraints are not violated. Finally the genetic algorithm was applied in the development of a viable timetable system which was tested to demonstrate the variety of possible timetables that can be generated based on user specified constraints and requirements. PHP was used for the front-end design of the application while MySQL was used for data storage.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Examination scheduling is a largely studied class of timetabling problem concerning the scheduling for testing student’s performance after several meetings with their lecturers within a specified period of time. A good examination timetable ensures that both student, lecturers and the school management are satisfied with the examination arrangement, making sure that all examination are scheduled within the stipulated time frame and both hard and soft constraint are well satisfied. For many decades now, educational institutions have adopted computer-based systems to support a wide range of administrative functions such as course registration, student record management, courses and examination timetabling, personnel and financial management . Timetabling problem in educational institutions is categorized in three groups: university examination, university course, and school timetabling. University examination timetabling defines the exact day, time slot, and room that each exam is held. In other words, which exam is scheduled on which day, the time slot, and in which building, floor, and room it is held are determined . Setting up a conflict-free examination timetable poses a difficult challenge due to limited resources like periods and examination rooms. The main objective in the examination timetabling problem is no student takes more than one examination at any time period. This conflict can be regarded as a hard constraint and must be eliminated.
The need for automated information system for educational development cannot be over emphasized. The assertion by many professionals that information is power is continuously gaining affirmation as the countries of the world continue to witness dynamic trends in information technology. The manual system of accessing and scheduling of examination time-table in higher institutions is always very tedious. The scheduling is done by the school’s exams and record department. The number of exams hall in the school and their various capacities must be put into consideration, if not there will be a clash of exam venues. For each of the sections, levels and departments, there will be a time slot for each of the examination day. Manually scheduling of this time is confusing and takes a long period of time to produce and excellent and perfect result that is free from clashes.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
An improper examination timetable may result in students' poor performance as it may not let them enough preparation between two sequential exams. In addition, there are many exams to be scheduled, large number of students who have taken different courses, the limited number of rooms or exam halls are available, and some constraints such as no conflict in a single student's exams make it very difficult to schedule experimentally. The scheduling problem created by these set of circumstances clearly poses an interesting intellectual challenge. This study explores this challenge and proposes solution to this problem. The following are some of the challenges encountered in the Manual Process of Exam Time Table Allocation;
a. The current manually prepared exam time table is always error prone and takes a lot of time to reschedule.
b. Manual system of planning and accessing this time table is stressful.
c. Actual class sizes are not captured and as such there is error in Venue Allocation.
d. Clashes in take place in cases of carryover students.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
The world is changing into a global village and the quest for knowledge and information is increasing. The computing is fast dominating all the aspects of life and many academic institution activities. There is a need for an easy way for planning and scheduling the school examination time table. To achieve this purpose, the following objectives must be put into consideration:
1. To develop flexible and interactive Examination Scheduling Software that enables automatic generation of examinations schedules for tertiary institution in Nigeria.
2. To develop a simple easy-to-use software which an individual with little or no idea of software application can interact with a great deal of comprehension.
3. To develop a system that will capture the actual sizes of the class and allocate venues accordingly.
4. Developing a system that will create room easy amendment where there are errors.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This research work is greatly hoped to eliminate the manual way of scheduling examination time table in the school. It will more also eliminate stress in planning of the time table. It will also avail the students to go for their worship at Sundays that is no more writing exams on Sundays. Students will now write exams comfortably with good venue and much time and more also eliminate examination clash.
1.5 SCOPE OF STUDY
This project work is meant to cover examination time table scheduling for school of Industrial And Applied Science (SIAS) in federal polytechnic Nekede Owerri. The system is web based so it will be hosted on a server and run on a browser. For the purpose of this project, the system will be hosted on a localhost. The system has a login page which restricts access to unregistered users, an interface for the registration of courses and classes.