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TABLIX(1)		     Tablix User's Manual		     TABLIX(1)

NAME
tablix2	- general timetable solver

SYNOPSIS
tablix2	[ options ] file

DESCRIPTION
Tablix	is  a  powerful	 free  software	kernel for solving general timetabling
problems. It uses a coarse-grained parallel genetic algorithm  in  combination
with  other  techniques	 to  construct	sensible timetables from XML formatted
problem	descriptions. Tablix can run on	a single host as well as on a  hetero-
geneous	parallel virtual machine using PVM3.

It  operates  by  trying  to  assign  variable resources to a number of	events
(sometimes called tuples) in a most efficient way. Various fitness modules can
be  specified  in the problem description file to control the behaviour	of the
genetic	algorithm.

Output is given	in the form of a XML file. This	file can be further  processed
by tablix2_output utility to export timetable data to a	number of human	or ma-
chine readable formats.	Output XML file	can also be used again	as  a  problem
description (input) file. In that case the previous solution will be used as a
hint for Tablix	when searching for a new solution.

OPTIONS
-n N
 Start N slave processes (kernels). This is the	number of spawned  PVM3	 tasks
 on  the  virtual  machine.  A	larger	number	means larger total population,
 steeper convergence graph, more exhaustive search for solutions and a smaller
 chance	 of premature convergence. However, optimal number depends on the num-
 ber and speed of computing nodes. For a virtual machine composed  of  reason-
 ably  fast  machines  start with N = 4	* i where i is the number of computing
 nodes.	Tablix will try	to arrange tasks so that all computing nodes will have
 equal load. (Be sure to set speed field correctly in your PVM3	hostfile). De-
 fault is 4.

-l N
 When a	population in a	slave process (computing node) reaches a local minimum
 that  process will try	to execute an algorithm	called local search. This is a
 way to	nudge the main genetic algorithm out of	a local	 minimum  trap	if  it
 gets  caught in it. However it	is usually not efficient for this algorithm to
 run simultaneously on many nodes. This	option sets the	 number	 of  computing
 nodes	that are allowed to simultaneously perform local search.  Setting N to
 0 disables local search and -1	means no limit.	Default	is 1.

-r
 Restore saved populations instead of starting with random  ones.  Populations
 are  loaded  from a number of PREFIXsave?.txt files, where PREFIX is the pre-
 fix, specified	with the -o option. See	below.

-o PREFIX
 Specify a prefix for output files. All	output files  (result,	saved  popula-
 tions and convergence graph info) will	have PREFIX prepended.

-d LEVEL
 Set the verbosity level, where	LEVEL is one of	the following:

	  0    (only fatal error messages are shown),

	  1    (fatal and non-fatal errors),

	  2    (errors and a progress indicator),

	  3    (all of the above plus some informational messages) or

	  4    (all of the above plus debug messages).

-h
 Shows a brief help message.

-v
 Shows compile time options, path to modules and copyright information.

-t MINUTES
 Sets  a time limit for	the genetic algorithm. Tablix will stop	if no solution
 is found after	set number of minutes. The effect is same as  when  Ctrl-C  is
 pressed. Setting MINUTES to 0 disables	this feature. Default is disabled. Use
 this option to	prevent	Tablix to run indefinitely if there is no possible so-
 lution.

-p PARAMETERS
 Set  algorithm	parameters. This is rarely used. The defaults should work fine
 in most cases.	PARAMETERS is a	 comma	separated  string  of  parameter=value
 pairs.	Following parameters are available:

	  popsize
	       Population size of one node in cluster. Bigger populations mean
	       less generations	per minute but also in some cases  more	 opti-
	       mized results. Default 500.

	  toursize
	       Tournament  size. Bigger	tournament sizes result	in faster con-
	       vergence, which can result in finding  a	 local	instead	 of  a
	       global minimum. Default 3.

	  mutatepart
	       What  part  of  the  population	will mutate each generation. 2
	       means one half, 3 means one third, etc. More mutations  usually
	       result  in slower convergence but can help to avoid local mini-
	       mums. Default 4.

	  randpart
	       What part of the	population will	be randomized each generation.
	       Randomizations have the same effect as mutations. Default 6.

	  maxequal
	       How  many  equally graded timetables can	exist at the same time
	       in a population.	Smaller	values result  in  slower  convergence
	       but can help to avoid local minimums. Default 20.

	  finish
	       Tablix  will  finish when the number of all mandatory errors in
	       the best	solution reaches zero and this best solution  had  the
	       same  fitness  value  for N sequential populations. This	option
	       enables you to set the value of N. It has no  effect  if	 there
	       are  no	non-mandatory errors defined (in that case Tablix fin-
	       ishes as	soon as	the number of  all  mandatory  errors  reaches
	       zero). Default 300.

	  migrtime
	       How  often  do  parts  of  populations  migrate	between	nodes.
	       Smaller value means more	migrations, which  results  in	faster
	       convergence. Default 40.

	  migrpart
	       What part of population will migrate between nodes. Default 10.

	  localtresh
	       How many	equally	graded populations to wait before starting lo-
	       cal search (if enabled).	Default	100.

	  localstep
	       Initial step for	the local search algorithm. Larger values mean
	       more exhaustive and slower search. Default 4.

	  pophint
	       If the user has loaded an XML file that already contains	a par-
	       tial or a full solution,	then a part of the population  can  be
	       initialized  with  this	solution.   This parameter defines the
	       percentage of the timetables in the  population	that  will  be
	       initialized  (other  timetables will be initialized with	random
	       values).	Values must be between 0 and 100. Larger  values  mean
	       that  the  solution  given  in the XML file will	have a greater
	       possibility of being included in	the final solution.  If	 there
	       is  no  solution	in the XML file	then this parameter has	no ef-
	       fect. Default 25.

	  cachesize
	       This is the maximum number of  timetable	 fitness  values  that
	       will  be	 held  in  the	fitness	cache. Larger values mean more
	       cache search overhead but may improve cache hit/miss ratio.  It
	       is  probably  unwise  to	use caches larger than 32.  In general
	       fitness caching will reduce performance at the start of the ge-
	       netic algorithm and improve it at the end. Set to 0 to turn off
	       caching.	Default	16.

-i PATH
 Sets the path to fitness modules. By default the module path is  set  to  the
 location where	fitness	modules	were installed by make install command.

USAGE
When  you  run	tablix2	 , you actually	start the  master  process  that  will
spawn the requested number of slave processes (kernels)	on  the	  virtual  ma-
chine.	It  will  then multicast the configuration file	to all the  nodes  and
start listening	for their reports.

You can	press Ctrl-C (or send  SIGINT)	to  stop  the	process.  Tablix  will
save its state in a number of files  called  save?.txt	(it  will prepend your
prefix,	if given). You can later resume	the process  by	 running  Tablix  with
the -r parameter.

This  feature  will only  work if  you don't change the	input XML file between
saving and restoring  the  process. Changes to the number of  computing	 nodes
(-n  parameter)	 or  to	 the physical configuration of the cluster are allowed
however.

Tablix will save population convergence	information for	each node  during  the
computation  into  files  with	names conv?.txt. These files allow the user to
track the progress and sometimes predict the required time to find  the	 solu-
tion  to the given problem. Data in these files	can be graphically represented
with the tablix2_plot utility.

When all the criteria defined by the fitness  modules  are  satisfied,	Tablix
will output one	XML  file  for each node (file names will be result?.xml, pre-
fix will be prepended if given).

NOTES
tablix2_kernel is executable for the slave process. It should not  be  started
by hand, unless	you know what your are doing (e.g. during debugging)

DIAGNOSTICS
Exit  status is	0 if solutions were found, and 1 if the	time limit was reached
or the user has	pressed	Ctrl-C.	Exit status is more or less undefined in  case
of errors during the execution (ideally	it should be 2 in this case).

BUGS
Tablix will not	notify the user	if he or she is	trying to create an impossible
time table.

AUTHOR
Tomaz Solc (tomaz.solc@tablix.org)

SEE ALSO
pvm(1PVM),  pvmd(1PVM),	 tablix2_output(1),  tablix2_plot(1),	tablix2_bench-
mark(1), tablix2_test(1), Tablix User's	Manual,	Tablix modules HOWTO

Tomaz Solc			  2005-09-03			     TABLIX(1)

NAME | SYNOPSIS | DESCRIPTION | OPTIONS | -n N | -l N | -r | -o PREFIX | -d LEVEL | -h | -v | -t MINUTES | -p PARAMETERS | -i PATH | USAGE | NOTES | DIAGNOSTICS | BUGS | AUTHOR | SEE ALSO | pvm(1PVM), pvmd(1PVM), tablix2_output(1), tablix2_plot(1), tablix2_bench-

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