Applied Mathematics & Information Sciences

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The job shop scheduling problem is one of the well-known hardest combinatorial optimization problems, and solving the problem can be complex and time-consuming task. Hence, many undergraduates can not fully experience the scheduling procedures. This paper aims to introduce a computer game designed to enable the players to create and solve the job shop scheduling problems, and the players can learn the topics such as scheduling and optimization via a sense-making experiences provided by the game playing. The game program provides a simple graphic user interface similar with traditional board games played by manipulating blocks, and the players can conveniently search the good schedules in a trial-and-error manner. Moreover, the completed schedules are evaluated by taking the schedules generated by the genetic algorithm into account. For reasonable evaluation, the game program adopts two search strategies called forward and backward search to generate schedules with a wide range of makespans. The integrated job shop scheduling game introduced is well-organized to support overall procedures for job shop scheduling, and the genetic algorithm based evaluation can make the players to compete for better schedules. As a result, both purposes, entertainment and education, can be simultaneously served by the game playing.

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