New Computational Results for the Nurse Scheduling Problem: A Scatter Search Algorithm
In this paper, we present a scatter search algorithm for the well-known nurse scheduling problem (NSP). This problem aims at the construction of roster schedules for nurses taking both hard and soft constraints into account. The objective is to minimize the total preference cost of the nurses and the total penalty cost from violations of the soft constraints. The problem is known to be NPhard. The contribution of this paper is threefold. First, we are, to the best of our knowledge, the first to present a scatter search algorithm for the NSP. Second, we investigate two different types of solution combination methods in the scatter search framework, based on four different cost elements. Last, we present detailed computational experiments on a benchmark dataset presented recently, and solve these problem instances under different assumptions. We show that our procedure performs consistently well under many different circumstances, and hence, can be considered as robust against case-specific constraints.
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