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Knowledge extraction for solving resource-constrained project scheduling problem through decision tree

Lin-Lin Xie (School of Civil Engineering and Transportation, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China)
Yajiao Chen (School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai, China)
Sisi Wu (School of Civil Engineering and Transportation, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China)
Rui-Dong Chang (The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)
Yilong Han (School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai, China)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 28 February 2023

217

Abstract

Purpose

Project scheduling plays an essential role in the implementation of a project due to the limitation of resources in practical projects. However, the existing research tend to focus on finding suitable algorithms to solve various scheduling problems and fail to find the potential scheduling rules in these optimal or near-optimal solutions, that is, the possible intrinsic relationships between attributes related to the scheduling of activity sequences. Data mining (DM) is used to analyze and interpret data to obtain valuable information stored in large-scale data. The goal of this paper is to use DM to discover scheduling concepts and obtain a set of rules that approximate effective solutions to resource-constrained project scheduling problems. These rules do not require any search and simulation, which have extremely low time complexity and support real-time decision-making to improve planning/scheduling.

Design/methodology/approach

The resource-constrained project scheduling problem can be described as scheduling a group of interrelated activities to optimize the project completion time and other objectives while satisfying the activity priority relationship and resource constraints. This paper proposes a new approach to solve the resource-constrained project scheduling problem by combining DM technology and the genetic algorithm (GA). More specifically, the GA is used to generate various optimal project scheduling schemes, after that C4.5 decision tree (DT) is adopted to obtain valuable knowledge from these schemes for further predicting and solving new scheduling problems.

Findings

In this study, the authors use GA and DM technology to analyze and extract knowledge from a large number of scheduling schemes, and determine the scheduling rule set to minimize the completion time. In order to verify the application effect of the proposed DT classification model, the J30, J60 and J120 datasets in PSPLIB are used to test the validity of the scheduling rules. The results show that DT can readily duplicate the excellent performance of GA for scheduling problems of different scales. In addition, the DT prediction model developed in this study is applied to a high-rise residential project consisting of 117 activities. The results show that compared with the completion time obtained by GA, the DT model can realize rapid adjustment of project scheduling problem to deal with the dynamic environment interference. In a word, the data-based approach is feasible, practical and effective. It not only captures the knowledge contained in the known optimal scheduling schemes, but also helps to provide a flexible scheduling decision-making approach for project implementation.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a novel knowledge-based project scheduling approach. In previous studies, intelligent optimization algorithm is often used to solve the project scheduling problem. However, although these intelligent optimization algorithms can generate a set of effective solutions for problem instances, they are unable to explain the process of decision-making, nor can they identify the characteristics of good scheduling decisions generated by the optimization process. Moreover, their calculation is slow and complex, which is not suitable for planning and scheduling complex projects. In this study, the set of effective solutions of problem instances is taken as the training dataset of DM algorithm, and the extracted scheduling rules can provide the prediction and solution of new scheduling problems. The proposed method focuses on identifying the key parameters of a specific dynamic scheduling environment, which can not only reproduces the scheduling performance of the original algorithm well, but also has the ability to make decisions quickly under the dynamic interference construction scenario. It is helpful for project managers to implement quick decisions in response to construction emergencies, which is of great practical significance for improving the flexibility and efficiency of construction projects.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 71871096).

Citation

Xie, L.-L., Chen, Y., Wu, S., Chang, R.-D. and Han, Y. (2023), "Knowledge extraction for solving resource-constrained project scheduling problem through decision tree", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-04-2022-0345

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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