Scheduling operations in a large hospital by multiple agents

Noam Gaon, Yuval Gabai Schlosberg, Roie Zivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The scheduling of operations in a large hospital is performed jointly by several groups of people, each with its own objective and constraints. It is a two-phase process, starting with the allocation of operating rooms to wards, and followed by the scheduling of operations in each operating room of the hospital on each day. The final schedule must satisfy all inter-ward hard constraints, such as the allocation of anesthetists, nurses, and equipment to operations that are taking place in parallel, and ideally, it should also address soft constraints such as taking the urgency and complexity of operations into consideration. This study contributes to the ongoing effort of adapting multi-agent optimization models and algorithms to real-world applications by modeling the problems in both phases as distributed constraint optimization problems (DCOPs), with different properties. The first phase includes partially cooperative ward-representing agents, allocating operating rooms for daily usage among themselves. In the second phase, ward-representing agents interact with agents representing constraining elements, in order to generate daily operation schedules for each operating room, thus forming a unique bipartite constraint graph. On one side are the ward representatives, while on the other are the agents representing the constraining resources. Each agent has a non-trivial local problem to solve, and its solution serves as the proposed assignment in the distributed algorithm. The study begins by discussing the properties required of the algorithms needed to solve the two phases. It then proposes adjustments to existing distributed partially cooperative algorithms and local search algorithms to solve these problems, and compares the results of different variants of these algorithms. The results obtained for both phases emphasize that successful collaboration is predicated on two requirements: that agents hold consistent information regarding their peers’ states and that the degree of exploration undertaken by the algorithm is restricted in order to produce high-quality solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107074
JournalEngineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • Distributed constraint optimization
  • Distributed local search algorithms
  • Multi-agent applications
  • Multi-agent system
  • Operating-room scheduling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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