Scheduling Three-Operation Jobs in a Two-Machine Flow Shop to Minimize Makespan

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This paper considers a variant of the classical problem of minimizing makespan in a two-machine flow shop. In this variant, each job has three operations, where the first operation must be performed on the first machine, the second operation can be performed on either machine but cannot be preempted, and the third operation must be performed on the second machine. The NP-hard nature of the problem motivates the design and analysis of approximation algorithms. It is shown that a schedule in which the operations are sequenced arbitrarily, but without inserted machine idle time, has a worst-case performance ratio of 2. Also, an algorithm that constructs four schedules and selects the best is shown to have a worst-case performance ratio of 3/2. A polynomial time approximation scheme (PTAS) is also presented.

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