The PATAT (Practice and Theory of Automated Timetabling) conference officially started today, although there was a social event yesterday.
One of the innovative aspects of PATAT, which is reflected in the conference title, is that it attracts both academics and practitioners.
The 2012 conference (the ninth in the conference series) has probably attracted more practitioners than previous conferences. The practitioners are drawn from people who work in universities who have the unenviable task of actually generating timetables of various types (for example, examination timetable, course timetable etc.) as well as companies that develop software to assist the timetabling community. Whilst not being a complete list, the following companies are present at PATAT 2012.
These three companies are arguably some of the leading software companies in the timetabling sector and it is good to see them interacting with the scientific community.
Given the number of practitioners present at PATAT, the conference program reflects this important element of the conference, with a stream running throughout the conference called Practical University Timetabling where the presentations are given by colleagues who work in timetabling offices or by software vendors.
It is good to see that conferences, such as PATAT, recognise the importance of including the end users and software vendors in helping to direct the research direction which, in my view, can only be a good thing.
If you are interested, more PATAT posts can be seen here.