ASAP Group

The Automated Scheduling, Optimisation and Planning (ASAP) research group carries out multi-disciplinary research into mathematical models and algorithms for a variety of real world optimisation problems. ASAP research work aims to set the following research directions on the international agenda:

  • Modelling the complexity and uncertainty inherent in complex, real-world problems across a wide range of application areas including airport optimization, cutting and packing, educational timetabling, healthcare, network routing, personnel scheduling, portfolio optimization, production scheduling/rescheduling, public transport optimization, space allocation, transportation logistics optimization and vehicle routing.
  • Developing intelligent systems that can automatically aid the design and implementation of more efficient, effective, reusable, easier-to-implement/deploy/use general computational search methods that are applicable to a range of real-world problems.
  • Developing rigorous mathematical theories for a more profound understanding of real world problems and effective design of intelligent decision support systems.

Our expertise in Computer Science and Operational Research allows us to bring a unique and novel perspective to traditional Operational Research problems, and also to bring new real-world problems to the Computer Science community.


» We are pleased to announce that John Drake passed his PhD viva with minor corrections. The title of the thesis was "Crossover Control in Selection Hyper-Heuristics: Case Studies Using MKP and Hyflex". He was supervised by Ender. Congratulations!
» The following PhD students recently passed their vivas with minor corrections: Amadeo Asco (The Multi-objective Over-constrained Airport Baggage Sorting Station Assignment Problem, supervised by Jason Atkin and Dario Landa-Silva), and Mashael Maashi (An Investigation of Multi-Objective Hyper-Heuristics For Multi-Objective Optimisation, supervised by Graham Kendall and Ender Özcan). Congratulations to them!
» Journal of Operational Research Society, one of the highly respected journals in Operational Research, has selected ten of the most influential papers. Three of these 10 most influential papers are co-authored by members of ASAP: Jason Atkin, Graham Kendall, Ender Özcan, Rong Qu, Stefan Ravizza, and Huanlai Xing. All the 10 articles are available for download for free.
» Airports all over the world face capacity problems. In their recently published paper, Urszula Neuman and Jason Atkin consider the problem of allocating planes to gates, taking into account conflicts that may appear at taxiways. (Neuman and Atkin, LNCS 8197, 2013, pp 184-198).
» Success of the ASAP team at the MISTA 2013 Challenge on "Multi-mode resource-constrained multi-project scheduling".

Scheduling software from an ASAP team consisting of Shahriar Asta, Daniel Karapetyan, Ahmed Kheiri, Ender O:zcan and Andrew Parkes wins first place in the MISTA 2013 Challenge on "Multi-mode resource-constrained multi-project scheduling". The performance of the proposed approach is significantly better than the other competing approaches, producing the best solution for 17 out of the 20 test instances and performing the best around 90% of the trials across all instances (see final results). Project scheduling is a common real world optimisation problem, and in the competition multiple projects had to be scheduled whilst taking into account the availability of local and global resources. The challenge was part of the 6th MISTA international conference on "Multidisciplinary International Scheduling Conference: Theory & Applications". The ASAP team, 3 of whom were appointed under the LANCS (S&I) Initiative, won against an initial registration of 21 teams, with 11 teams from around the world going on to submit full entries. Their winning approach combined Monte-Carlo tree search and hyper-heuristics methods with the ability to exploit the computing power of multicore machines.

» Dr Qu, Dr Atkin and Dr Landa-Silva have been awarded a Royal Society International Exchange Scheme grant, of £11830, from April 2013 to March 2015, with Dr Bai at University of Nottingham Ningbo, China.