Schedule creator for University of Waterloo courses.
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COURSERATOR3000
.gitignore
.travis.yml
COURSERATOR3000.wsgi Configure everything. Dec 7, 2014
LICENSE.txt
README.md
build.sh Update everything Jul 21, 2017
course_qualifier_error.png
pycosat-0.6.1.tar.gz Update everything Jul 21, 2017
screenshot.png

README.md

COURSERATOR 3000

Dead simple course schedule generator for University of Waterloo courses.

Screenshot

By using a SAT solver, this service can handle extremely complex schedules with ease. See the "Implementation notes" section for details.

Using it online

  1. Enter your courses in the provided field as a comma separated list. For example, CS240, CS241, ECON201, ECE124, SCI267.
  2. The schedules should now be displayed in a table below the entry field. Select a schedule from the list to view it.
  3. Selected schedules are displayed below the schedule table.

Hosting it yourself

Is the site down? Want to set up your own Courserator instance? On Debian and Debian-like environments like Ubuntu, run the following commands:

git clone https://github.com/Uberi/COURSERATOR3000.git
cd COURSERATOR3000
python3 -m venv venv && ./venv/bin/activate # set up and enter virtual environment (optional)
./build.sh # install dependencies
python3 COURSERATOR3000/__init__.py # start server (press Ctrl + C to exit)
deactivate # exit virtual environment (optional)

Hosting it properly

For "real" (production-grade) hosting, we'll be using Apache 2 and Flask over WSGI. These instructions target Ubuntu DigitalOcean Droplets, but should work on any Debian-based system.

Make sure you have all the dependencies:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install git python3 python3-pip apache2 libapache2-mod-wsgi-py3

Set up the application in the desired directory (in this case, /var/www):

cd /var/www
sudo git clone https://github.com/Uberi/COURSERATOR3000.git # if setting this up without an internet connection, just copy the folder containing this README to `/var/www` instead of using `git clone`
cd /var/www/COURSERATOR3000/
sudo bash build.sh
sudo chmod +x COURSERATOR3000.wsgi # this needs to be executable for Apache to run it

Now to configure Apache to recognize the site, open /etc/apache2/sites-available/COURSERATOR3000.conf and give it the following contents:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName anthony-zhang.me
    ServerAdmin azhang9@gmail.com
    WSGIScriptAlias / /var/www/COURSERATOR3000/COURSERATOR3000.wsgi
    <Directory /var/www/COURSERATOR3000/COURSERATOR3000/>
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all
    </Directory>
    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
    LogLevel warn
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
</VirtualHost>

The site can now be enabled:

sudo a2enmod wsgi
sudo a2ensite COURSERATOR3000
sudo service apache2 reload
sudo service apache2 restart

Done! Now you can monitor it with tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log.

Implementation notes

The schedule conflict solver uses Pycosat as a constraint solver to directly calculate schedules with no conflicts. This eliminates a lot of the work in searching for non-conflicting schedules. For example, out of a search space of roughly 38,000 possible schedules in the code examples, we can solve for the 72 possibilities within 5 milliseconds.

Reducing the schedule conflicts to SAT clauses is simple. Let $A_1, \ldots, A_m$ be courses, each with sections ${A_i}_1, \ldots, {A_i}_m$. Then to specify that we want one of the sections of each course, we specify the clause ${A_i}_1 \lor \ldots \lor {A_i}_1$ for each $i$.

To avoid multiple sections of the same course being selected, we specify the clauses $\neg {A_i}_x \lor \neg {A_i}_y$ for each distinct set $\left{x, y\right}$, for each $i$. Now we have specified that we want one and only one section from each course.

The conflict detector is responsible for detecting every possible pair of conflicting sections. This means that we run it once over all the sections and obtain a list of conflicting pairs, which is a good thing since its time complexity is pretty bad (but still polynomial). However, in practice it completes quickly enough, helped by the fact that we only need to run it once per query.

The conflict detector outputs pairs $({A_i}_x, {A_j}_y)$, which represent the idea that the section ${A_i}_x$ conflicts with ${A_j}_y$. For each of these pairs, we specify the clause $\neg {A_i}_x \lor \neg {A_j}_y$. Now we have specified that the conflicting sections cannot both be chosen.

Solving for all these clauses using the SAT solver, we obtain solutions of the form ${A_1}_x, \ldots, {A_n}_y$ - a list of course sections that were solved for. These are the conflict-free schedules. The only thing left to do after this is display the results.

Essentially:

  1. User requests courses to attempt to schedule.
  2. Course data for each course is requested from the uWaterloo Open Data API, computing the start/end times of each individual block for each section. A simple caching mechanism cuts down on unnecessary requests.
  3. Conflicts are detected by looking for overlapping blocks.
  4. Constraints are generated from the course sections and conflicts between them.
  5. Schedules are solved for using PycoSAT.
  6. Schedules are formatted and displayed to the user.

License

Copyright 2014-2017 Anthony Zhang.

This program is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License.

Basically, this means everyone is free to use, modify, and distribute the files, as long as these modifications are also licensed the same way.

Most importantly, the Affero variant of the GPL requires you to publish your modifications in source form, even if the program is hosted as a service, without being distributed.