Date of Award

Winter 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management

Committee Director

Ghaith Rabadi

Committee Member

Shannon Bowling

Committee Member

Holly Handley

Committee Member

Steve Cotter


Spatial scheduling problems involve scheduling a set of activities or jobs that each require a certain amount of physical space in order to be carried out. In these problems space is a limited resource, and the job locations, orientations, and start times must be simultaneously determined. As a result, spatial scheduling problems are a particularly difficult class of scheduling problems. These problems are commonly encountered in diverse industries including shipbuilding, aircraft assembly, and supply chain management. Despite its importance, there is a relatively scarce amount of research in the area of spatial scheduling.

In this dissertation, spatial scheduling problems are studied from a mathematical and algorithmic perspective. Optimization models based on integer programming are developed for several classes of spatial scheduling problems. While the majority of these models address problems having an objective of minimizing total tardiness, the models are shown to contain a core set of constraints that are common to most spatial scheduling problems. As a result, these constraints form the basis of the models given in this dissertation and many other spatial scheduling problems with different objectives as well. The complexity of these models is shown to be at least NP-complete, and spatial scheduling problems in general are shown to be NP-hard. A lower bound for the total tardiness objective is shown, and a polynomial-time algorithm for computing this lower bound is given.

The computational complexity inherent to spatial scheduling generally prevents the use of optimization models to find solutions to larger, realistic problems in a reasonable time. Accordingly, two classes of approximation algorithms were developed: greedy heuristics for finding fast, feasible solutions; and hybrid meta-heuristic algorithms to search for near-optimal solutions. A flexible hybrid algorithm framework was developed, and a number of hybrid algorithms were devised from this framework that employ local search and several varieties of simulated annealing. Extensive computational experiments showed these hybrid meta-heuristic algorithms to be effective in finding high-quality solutions over a wide variety of problems. Hybrid algorithms based on local search generally provided both the best-quality solutions and the greatest consistency.