Learning-Based Grey Wolf Optimizer for Stochastic Flexible Job Shop Scheduling

Cheng Ran Lin, Zheng Cai Cao, Meng Chu Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This work considers a stochastic flexible job shop scheduling with limited extra resources and machine-dependent setup time in a semiconductor manufacturing environment, which is an NP-hard problem. In order to obtain its reliable and high-performance schedule in a reasonable time, a learning-based grey wolf optimizer is proposed. In it, an optimal computing budget allocation-based approach, which is designed for two scenarios from real manufacturing environments, is proposed to intelligently allocate computing budget and improve search efficiency. It extends the application area of optimal computing budget allocation by laying a theoretic foundation. Besides, to obtain proper control parameters iteratively, a reinforcement learning algorithm with a newly designed delay update strategy is used to build a parameter tuning scheme of a grey wolf optimizer. The scheme acts as a guide for balancing global and local search, thereby enhancing effectiveness of the proposed algorithm. The theoretic interpretation of the developed optimal computing budget allocation-based approach and the convergence analysis results of the proposed algorithm are presented. Various experiments with benchmarks and randomly generated cases are performed to compare it with several updated algorithms. The results shows its superiority over them. Note to Practitioners - Meta-heuristic are often deployed to solve semiconductor manufacturing scheduling problems. However, they face to two thorny issues when they face stochastic manufacturing environments. 1) their computational efficiency is quite low, thus requiring substantial improvement, since a stochastic optimization problem requires Monte Carlo sampling to estimate the actual objective function values in a precise manner; and 2) most of them are parameter-sensitive, and choosing their proper parameters is highly challenging in such environments. To address the first issue, we develop an optimal computing budget allocation-based method for deciding the optimal numbers of sampling times based on both prior knowledge and simulation results. To address the second one, we propose a reinforcement learning algorithm to self-adjust the parameters of our proposed method called Learning-based Grey Wolf Optimizer. In addition, we design a delay update strategy to enhance its robustness, and thus, a feasible and high-quality schedule can be founded in a short time for real-time scheduling problems. Theoretic proofs and experimental results show that the proposed method is effective and efficient. Consequently, it can be readily applicable to practical semiconductor manufacturing systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3659-3671
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Flexible job shop scheduling
  • grey wolf optimizer
  • optimal computing budget allocation (OCBA)
  • reinforcement learning
  • semiconductor manufacturing


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