Managing Action Duration Uncertainty with Just-in-Case Scheduling

John Bresina, Mark Drummond, and Keith Swanson

Some applications involve automatic generation and execution of schedules that contain actions with uncertain durations. Such uncertainty can cause schedules to break during execution. This paper presents a technique, called Just-In-Case scheduling or JIC, for building robust schedules that tend not to break. The technique implements the common sense idea of being prepared for likely errors, just in case they should occur. The JXC algorithm analyzes a given schedule, determines where it is likely to break, reinvokes the scheduler to generate a contingent schedule for each highly probable break case, and produces a "multiply contingent" schedule. The technique was developed for a real telescope scheduling problem, and the paper presents empirical results showing that Just-In-Case scheduling performs extremely well for this problem.

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