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PaperCon Optimizes Paper Layout and Cutting with Visual Basic and Amzi!

PaperCon in Atlanta Georgia is using a program written with the Amzi! Logic Server and Visual Basic to optimize cutting large sheets of specialty paper. The problem is called the guillotine problem because each cut must go completely across the paper (see diagram). So the layout problem consists of determining where to position the rectangular pieces needed. Because of the guillotine cutting and the relatively small number of pieces cut from each sheet (less than 5), it is possible to search the full space of possible positions.

The empty spaces and the pieces are represented in Prolog lists of tuples consisting of the upper-left and lower-right corners. The program places the pieces in a top-down, left-to-right manner and by using recursion and backtracking searches for the optimal layout.

Prolog was selected because they could rapidly prototype the problem and change the control structures as needed.

Visual Basic is used to display the paper and the pieces to be cut. It was selected because it is widely used 'standard' and could provide a comfortable interface for the paper cutters to use.

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