schooltool bounty and/or bakeoff

From: Tom Hoffman <>
Date: Wed Oct 27 2004 - 07:15:39 CEST

Hi folks,

Some of you have probably heard of the "bounty" Mark Shuttleworth is
offering for timetabling work on his website as part of the SchoolTool
project (

$3000 for the implementation of an advanced schedule optimisation
infrastructure that uses genetic algorithms, perhaps in combination
with other sophisticated techniques, and allows for distributed
timetable optimisation across networks of machines, and plugs into the
framework described above.

However, if you came looking for more details about how to stake a
claim on this money, we couldn't tell you much. Basically we had to
get some of the more fundamental pieces of SchoolTool in place first.
Rest assured, however, that we have every intention of spending Mark's
money, and I'm hoping you can give us some advice on both the problem
domain and the process for giving out the money.

Our current thinking is that we should separate the optimizer from the
gui and pass XML between them, as Tablix does. The lack of a standard
XML vocabulary for this work is a big annoyance. We've been looking
at TTML ( which
seems comprehensive, if not actually used by anyone. It is also quite
abstract and mathematical. My superficial impression of Tablix's XML
is that it isn't comprehensive enough to do everything we need to do.
We want to include individual student scheduling, as you'd do in an
American high school, for example. SchoolTool is a very international
project, so we aim to create basic building blocks which can serve a
wide variety of school designs.

Regardless, the nature of the XML format we'll use is very much an
open question, and we're open to advice at this point.

Once we have the XML nailed down, I have been thinking that it would
be interesting to have a "bake off," with the $3,000 bounty going to
the developer of the engine which best solved a set of problems
expressed in XML.

We'll have to work out exactly how we'd handle the intellectual
property issues. Right now code paid for by the Shuttleworth
Foundation is the property of the foundation, and the copyright for
contributed code checked into the SchoolTool repository is shared
between the author and the Foundation. The code is licensed under the
GPL, but the Foundation reserves the right to issue commercial
licenses, with profits going back into the foundation's charitable

Anyhow, thoughts? Should I be asking these questions on a different list :-) ?

Received on Wed Oct 27 07:55:32 2004

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