Automated Scheduling Optimisation and Planning (ASAP) Research Group
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About the Automated Scheduling, Optimisation and Planning (ASAP) research group

The research group carries out multi-disciplinary research into mathematical models and algorithms for a variety of real world optimisation problems.

The group is a truly international group with members located in both our University of Nottingham overseas campuses in Malaysia and Ningbo, China.

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Keys aims and expertise

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.
  • Using methods from theoretical computer science and probability theory, we analyse the computational complexity of evolutionary algorithms and other meta-heuristics. Such analyses lead to insight into how the performance of meta-heuristics depends on their parameter settings and the characteristics of the optimisation problem.

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.

Current Projects

DEAS EPSRC Digital Economy: Digitally Enhanced Advanced Services (DEAS) NetworkPlus

In a recent speech Haldane (Chief Economist of the Bank of England) identified a productivity puzzle -that despite the onset of digital technologies, there is a very long tail of poorly productive firms, across all sectors, and productivity (value of outputs/value of inputs) has hardly improved in the last ten years. Much of the historical focus on productivity has been on applying digital technologies to improve the efficiency of ‘inputs’ (i.e.; reducing time and costs), rather than ‘outputs’ (i.e.: increasing value created). There is therefore a major opportunity is to re-focus such initiatives.

Digitally Enhanced Advanced Services (DEAS) offer enormous potential for value creation enabled by transformative digital technologies. Here the focus of the firm is on delivering ‘capability’, rather than on conventional sale of product or service, and so value delivered through how the product or service is used. This is a major change in how firms earn money (e.g.: payment-per-use, availability or outcome) and is an area where the UK has the potential to excel.

This Digital Economy (DE) Network+ aims to deliver a vibrant community that will position the UK as the internationally leading research hub for DEAS. Through this programme we will:-

  • foster a community which brings together both ‘Early Career’ and experienced researchers in an interdisciplinary networks panning Computer Science, Human Factors, Engineering and Business,
  • (working collaboratively on fundamental (TRLs 1-3) technological challenges (i.e.: AI techniques, data analytics, and associated technologies) across Manufacturing, Transport and Financial services,
  • with a clear ‘line of sight’ to achieve industrial impact (we bring match funding of £1.4M to demonstrate industries willingness to engage),
  • delivering a formal repository of successful DEAS use-cases to provide a platform for scale up research and practice.

Principal Investigator: University of Exeter, Co-Investigators: Bob John (ASAP), Aston University, Cranfield University, University of Greenwich 

ENLIVEN project, funded by the European Commission, is within a consortium of 10 European countries. At the ASAP Group, we focus on knowledge discovery to establish case based reasoning systems to support policy making in lifelong learning across Europe.

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We are actively involved in NATCOR, a collaboration between ten universities, to develop and deliver taught courses in Operational Research to PhD students. We host the course entitled Heuristics & Approximation Algorithms

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Please visit our Projects pages for the full listing of our current and completed projects

 News

Hyper-heuristics: Theory and Applications

Nelishia Pillay, Rong Qu

Dr Rong Qu has jointly authored a book titled "Hyper-heuristics: Theory and Applications" in the Springer Natural Computing Series. This is the first authored book on hyper-heuristics, presenting fundamental theories and the recent applications of hyper-heuristics to combinatorial optimisation problems. It also illustrates the HyFlex framework and the EvoHyp toolkit, presents advanced topics in future research directions, and in the appendices offers details of the definition, problem model and constraints for the most tested four combinatorial optimisation problems.

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Academic Members

University of Nottingham - Malaysia Campus

  • Prof Graham Kendall -    Provost and CEO, University  of Nottingham Malaysia  Campus                                  Pro Vice Chancellor,  University of Nottingham      

University of Nottingham - Ningbo, China Campus

Spin-off Companies 

EventMAP Ltd - The Timetabling and Scheduling Specialists

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Staff Roster Solutions - Fast, intelligent, rostering automation

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We are based in Computer Science, Jubilee Campus, on B Floor

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ASAP Research Group

The University of Nottingham
School of Computer Science
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB


telephone: +44 (0) 115 8466543
email: asapgroup@nottingham.ac.uk