An End-to-End Reinforcement Learning Approach for Job-Shop Scheduling Problems Based on Constraint Programming


  • Pierre Tassel University of Klagenfurt
  • Martin Gebser University of Klagenfurt Graz University of Technology
  • Konstantin Schekotihin University of Klagenfurt



Reinforcement Learning, Deep Learning, Heuristic Learning, Representation Learning


Constraint Programming (CP) is a declarative programming paradigm that allows for modeling and solving combinatorial optimization problems, such as the Job-Shop Scheduling Problem (JSSP). While CP solvers manage to find optimal or near-optimal solutions for small instances, they do not scale well to large ones, i.e., they require long computation times or yield low-quality solutions. Therefore, real-world scheduling applications often resort to fast, handcrafted, priority-based dispatching heuristics to find a good initial solution and then refine it using optimization methods. This paper proposes a novel end-to-end approach to solve scheduling problems by means of CP and Reinforcement Learning (RL). In contrast to previous RL methods, tailored for a given problem by including procedural simulation algorithms, complex feature engineering, or handcrafted reward functions, our neural-network architecture and training algorithm merely require a generic CP encoding of some scheduling problem along with a set of small instances. Our approach leverages existing CP solvers to train an agent learning a Priority Dispatching Rule (PDR) that generalizes well to large instances, even from separate datasets. We evaluate our method on seven JSSP datasets from the literature, showing its ability to find higher-quality solutions for very large instances than obtained by static PDRs and by a CP solver within the same time limit.




How to Cite

Tassel, P., Gebser, M., & Schekotihin, K. (2023). An End-to-End Reinforcement Learning Approach for Job-Shop Scheduling Problems Based on Constraint Programming. Proceedings of the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling, 33(1), 614-622.