The Lockmaster's problem

Authors Sofie Coene, Frits C. R. Spieksma

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Sofie Coene
Frits C. R. Spieksma

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Sofie Coene and Frits C. R. Spieksma. The Lockmaster's problem. In 11th Workshop on Algorithmic Approaches for Transportation Modelling, Optimization, and Systems. Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 20, pp. 27-37, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2011)


Inland waterways form a natural network that is an existing, congestion free infrastructure with capacity for more traffic. The European commission promotes the transportation of goods by ship as it is a reliable, efficient and environmental friendly way of transport. A bottleneck for transportation over water are the locks that manage the water level. The lockmaster's problem concerns the optimal strategy for operating such a lock. In the lockmaster's problem we are given a lock, a set of ships coming from downstream that want to go upstream, and another set of ships coming from upstream that want to go downstream. We are given the arrival times of the ships and a constant lockage time; the goal is to minimize total waiting time of the ships. In this paper a dynamic programming algorithm (DP) is proposed that solves the lockmaster's problem in polynomial time. We extend this DP to different generalizations that consider weights, water usage, capacity, and (a fixed number of) multiple chambers. Finally, we prove that the problem becomes strongly NP-hard when the number of chambers is part of the input.
  • lock scheduling
  • batch scheduling
  • dynamic programming
  • complexity


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