Taiping, 15 January 2001
Larut Hill can keep the sun away for a moment, but not for long.

A black coffee (without sugar, an exception in Asia, tough to order) tastes well. The mee soup is coming, my favourite breakfast. It's a nice way to wake up, here at the terrace of the Casuarina Inn.

Casuarina Inn

Spacious rooms with aircon and private bathroom.
Great food at the terrace overlooking the Lake Gardens.

1 Jalan Sultan Mansor Shah, Taman Tasek
34000 Taiping, Malaysia
Tel +60-5-8041339 & 8041340
fax +60-5-8041337

SUMit Staff Scheduling

Staff planning
Planning based on e.g. flight schedules,
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Downstairs I see the first sun rays hitting the beautiful Lake Gardens ( Taiping starts the days.

After breakfast I walk down town, a kilometre from here. It's a daily routine, a regular part of my day. It's funny to walk around here. Taiping was new to me, but Malaysia is familiar territory. I feel at home here, in T-shirt and thongs, although I'll never make it to be a real local.

I've had a haircut twice already and in the end I just had it shaved short. Curly hair is nice in cold Holland, but here it is a major relief to be released of such a sheep's fur.

A writer sits in the shadow, and old Chinese ready for his first customer. His typewriter is ready to neatly fill in the forms of his clients. I'm on route to another keyboard, for a email check in a cybercafee. Funny how old and new coexists happily here.

I like Taiping. It rains a lot here. It's even the wettest town of Malaysia. But still, the rain is mostly limited to a heavy shower, usually at four or five in the afternoon. It cools everything down. Afterwards the Lake Gardens are crowded with love couples.

So far this trip has been an escape to Dutch winter, just enjoying the sun. Get away from hectic projects and an ever ringing GSM. Java Here in Taiping, where time sometimes seems to stand still, I have found the rest and energy to focus on some complex java programming.

Last Tuesday I was able to generate a complex duty roster, with a modern piece of artificial intelligence. An advanced algorithm determines the optimal daily schedule, guided by flexible fuzzy logic, expert system technology. It took me another few days to fine tune the fuzzy business rules, but now I'm very proud of the result:

About Nut Contact Henk Jan Expert Systems with flexible rules rosterplanning A roster, generated with fuzzy business rules and an advanced optimisation algorithm

This generated roster is very nice and elegant, despite some complex factors.

Manpower requirements

  • Changing manpower requirements.
    Maximum number of staff on week days, a smaller number on Saturdays, and a minimal number of staff on Sundays.
  • Every employee has two off days, every week (Sunday - Saturday).

    Most employees work maximally for 5 consecutive days. Some work weeks have just 3 or 4 days.

  • The duties revolve nicely. In the end everybody gets the same number of weekends off, and will run the same number of night shifts.

Fuzzy Rules

  • Every employee has sufficient rest between 2 duties. A night shift with a consecutive day shift is strictly prohibited. There is not even an evening shift with a consecutive day shift.
  • The transition between shifts is 'smooth'.
    Day shift
    Most employees start their work week with a day shift.
    Evening shift
    Evening shift preferably follow a day shift, in the middle of the week.
    Night shift
    The perfect time for a night shift is at the end of the work week, after an evening shift.
It's a very nice and elegant roster. I'm very happy about it, glad that the fuzzy rules and the optimisation algorithm work perfectly. Still I stop working for the moment.

Tomorrow I'll board the express train to Sungai Buloh. Next, I'll take the komuter to the Putra Mall, to discuss this fuzzy scheduling technology with an other AI expert, whom I met there a few weeks ago.

Finally with the komuter to Nilai and a bus to KLIA ( for a night flight with MAS ( to Melbourne, down under. My cousin Ingrid is there already, enjoying a tennis tournament. For the weeks to come she'll push me into more of a tourist existence. My escape of winter ends, holiday starts.

Bye bye Taiping, bye bye Malaysia, till after Chinese newyear. G'day Australia.

Till next week!