Chris Gatti

The Academic Acrobat

Taking the circus out of scheduling: An application from the big top

This is an independent project that I began around June of 2015. The results is a scheduling optimization algorithm that automatically places artists within an act to balance the workload among all artists, while accounting for differences in artist capabilities, medical limitations, and absences. I have a solid prototype working that I am continuing to develop and expand upon.

Abstract: This work develops a workload management tool to assist in the scheduling of circus artists for acrobatic sequences within an act. The goal of this scheduling task is to create an approximately equal workload among artists, while respecting each artists' acrobatic and physical capabilities, and while being able to do this quickly and in a more efficient manner compared to being done manually. We use the act Tournik, a high bar-based (gymnastics) act, from Cirque du Soleil's Corteo as an example act to formulate the problem and test the solution approach. A scheduling algorithm is created that is based on an initial seed schedule, which is refined using simulated annealing. Using real-world data, we show that the scheduling procedure in this work can create weekly schedules with similar or better workload equity among artists, as compared to a manual method. The results of this work provide support for the development of tools that can aid coaches in the scheduling of group acts and sequences. The approach taken in this work can be extended to assist in the management of all acts and cues in circus shows, with the goal of better managing artist workload, improving artist well-being, and ultimately reducing costs that are associated with injured artists.