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README.rst

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Conference Scheduler

Overview

A Python tool to assist the task of scheduling a conference which:

  • Can take an existing schedule and validate it against a set of constraints
  • Can calculate a new valid, optimal schedule
  • Can calculate a new, valid schedule also optimised to be the minimum change necessary from another given schedule
  • Has the resources, constraints and optimisations defined below built in
  • Has a simple mechanism for defining new constraints and optimisations
  • Is a standalone tool which takes simple data types as input and produces simple data types as output (i.e. does no IO or presentation)

The full documentation can be found at conference-scheduler.readthedocs.org.

Terms

  • Slot - a combination of room and period
  • Session - an ordered series of slots (e.g. 'the session in room 1 between coffee and lunch on Friday')
  • Event - a talk or workshop
  • Demand - the predicted size of audience for an event
  • Capacity - the capacity of venues

Constraints

  • All events must be scheduled
  • A slot may only have a maximum of one event scheduled
  • An event must not be scheduled in a slot for which it has been marked as unavailable
  • An event must not be scheduled at the same time as another event for which it has been marked not to clash
  • An event may be tagged and, if so, must be scheduled in a session where it shares at least one tag with all other events in that session

Optimisation

Two options:

  • The sum of 'potential disappointments' should be minimised where 'potential disappointments' is defined as the excess of demand over room capacity for every scheduled event
  • Minimise the number of changes from a given schedule.

Examples

Some examples of situations which have arisen at previous conferences and could be handled by the unavailability, clashing and tagging constraints:

  • A conference organiser says "Talks X and Y are on similar subject matter and likely to appeal to a similar audience. Let's try not to schedule them against each other."
  • A conference organiser says "Talks X, Y and Z are likely to appeal to a similar audience. Let's try to schedule them sequentially in the same room so that we minimise the movement of people from one room to another."
  • A conference organiser says "The audience for Talk X would benefit greatly from the speech-to-text provision. Let's schedule that one in the main hall."
  • A potential session chair says "I'd like to attend workshop X, so please don't schedule me to chair a session that clashes with it."
  • A potential session chair says "I'm happy to chair a session but I've never done it before, so please don't schedule me in the main hall."
  • A speaker says "I'd like to attend talk X, so please don't schedule my talk in the same slot."
  • A first-time speaker is assigned a mentor and requests that the mentor chairs the session in which they are scheduled to give their talk.

Acknowledgements

This repository was inspired by a talk given by David MacIver at PyCon UK 2016: http://2016.pyconuk.org/talks/easy-solutions-to-hard-problems/

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