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.



Wasakorn Laesanklang wins the Best Student Paper Award at the 4th International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems (ICORES 2015) for the paper "Mixed Integer Programming with Decomposition to Solve a Workforce Scheduling and Routing Problem." co-authored with Dario Landa-Silva and J. Arturo Castillo-Salazar.


Dr Per Kristian Lehre wins the Best Paper Award at ISAAC 2014.

The Best Paper Award at the the 25th International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation (ISAAC 2014) was awarded to Per Kristian Lehre and Carsten Witt for their paper "Concentrated Hitting Times of Randomized Search Heuristics with Variable Drift."


The following paper co-authored by members at ASAP, recently published in August 2014, ranks one of the most downloaded 10 articles at Applied Soft Computing, details at:

K. Lwin, R. Qu, Graham Kendall, "A learning-guided Multi-objective Evolutionary Algorithm for Constrained Portfolio Optimization", Applied Soft Computing, 24: 757-772, 2014


Dr Ender Ozcan delivered an invited tutorial on hyper-heuristics at AI-2014.

Dr Ender Ozcan delivered an invited tutorial at the thirty-fourth SGAI International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AI-2014), which was held in Cambridge from 9-11 December. AI-2014 is one of the leading UK-based international conferences on Artificial Intelligence and the longest running AI conference series in Europe. The invited tutorial was on hyper-heuristics and HyFlex which is a tool developed in the ASAP research group for researchers and practitioners to implement cross-domain solution methods and solve their problems with
minimal effort.


10 Fully Funded PhD studentships in ASAP and the School of Computer Science.


Ender Ozcan took over the role of deputy director of NATCOR (A National Taught Course Centre in Operational Research) from Prof Jeff Griffiths. NATCOR is a collaboration between twelve universities including the University of Nottingham to develop and deliver training through taught course provision in Operational Research (OR) to PhD students (especially those funded by EPSRC).


ASAP co-organised the 10th International Conference on the Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling ( PATAT 2014). Ender Ozcan co-chaired this year s conference, held in York from 26-29^th of August, with Bob John and Tim Curtois acting as the organising committee members. The biennial PATAT conferences have been a forum for both researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas about real world timetabling and advanced decision support solutions. The programme of this year's conference featured 76 presentations which represent the state-of-the-art in automated timetabling: there were 5 plenary papers, one of them being from the Scientia Ltd representing practitioners, 26 full papers, 38 extended abstracts, 5 system demonstrations and 2 practitioner key notes.

» Ahmed Kheiri (PhD student) and Mohamed Elsayed (MSc student) joined as a team ranked 3rd in the junior category of the ROADEF/EURO challenge on rolling stock management with a multi-stage hyper-heuristic method. The challenge was entitled as TRAINS DON'T VANISH! Initially, there were 13 junior teams registered across the world and the competition took about a year time. The teams formulated and developed their solutions to the problem from scratch based on the description provided by the organisers. Ahmed presented their hyper-heuristic solver at the 20th Conference of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies in Barcelona.

Transport Management Systems provider Microlise, along with partner the University of Nottingham, has been awarded funding of £359,000 from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).
The University of Nottingham will provide the extensive skills available through its' Automated Scheduling and Optimisation (ASAP), Advanced Data Analysis Centre (ADAC) and Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre (NTEC) teams.

» British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (BC Ferries), Canada announced a $252 million vessel replacement programme involving three Intermediate Class Ferries (media release). This decision was supported by independent research projects by Abraham Punnen and Daniel Karapetyan conducted in 2011-2013. The researchers validated the efficiency of the proposed fleet configurations in terms of the potential operational cost and level of service relative to the current vessels in service. Abraham Punnen and Daniel Karapetyan recently won the second Practice Prize at the Canadian Operational Research Society conference for their work with BC Ferries.

Daniel Karapetyan is currently working on a new project with BC Ferries, supporting the development of new schedules for the introduction of Intermediate Class Ferries in the Southern Gulf Islands region where two of the three new vessels will be operating..

» Prof Graham Kendall explains how football fixtures are set in an article in The Conversation.
» Duc-Cuong Dang and Per Kristian Lehre's work on Evolution under Partial Information has been nominated for a best paper award at GECCO'2014 as only paper from the theory track. They show that populations in appropriately tuned evolutionary algorithms aggregate enough information to optimise problems efficiently, even when the quality of individual solutions is highly uncertain.
» Dr Daniel Karapetyan and Abraham Punnen received the second prize in the Practice Prize Competition at CORS 2014 for a work on Operational Research Models and Algorithms for Fleet Size Planning and Schedule Optimisation for the British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
» Prof Graham Kendall explains the math behind exam timetabling in an article in The Conversation.

» 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.