sorting tasks by importance and urgency

Alia Khouri alia_khouri at
Wed Feb 25 07:56:03 EST 2009

I recently considered the apparently simple problem is of how to
algorithmically sort a set of business tasks which have an associated
a value and a due_date, such that the most important and urgent are
pushed to the top of the stack.

The two example task types I am posing here are: (1) a bid on a
contract and (2) leaverequest from an employee.

To sort by importance: I just consider the proportional value of each
task in relation to the total value of tasks.

To sort by urgency: I used something along the lines of excel's
percentrank function (
HP052092121033.aspx) to rank the tasks in percentage terms of the set
of days_to delivery.

The code is pretty self-explanatory, and I think the algorithm seems
to work ok so far, but in case I have missed something or there exists
some better way of doing this...

from datetime import date

weights = {
    'Tender'      : 1.0,
    'LeaveRequest': 0.1

rnd = lambda x: round(x,2)

class Task(object):
    """a simple prioritizing Task class"""

    def __init__(self, kind, value, due_date=None):
        self.kind = kind
        self.value = value
        self.due_date = due_date if due_date else
        self.weight = weights[kind]
        self.urgency = 0.0
        self.importance = 0.0

    def __repr__(self):
        return '<Task: %5s - %4s - %5s - %12s - %3s - %s>' % (
            rnd(self.priority), rnd(self.importance), rnd
            self.kind, self.days_to, self.value)

    def __cmp__(self, other):
        return cmp(self.priority, other.priority)

    def days_to(self):
        return (self.due_date -

    def priority(self):
        return self.weight * (self.importance + self.urgency)

    def relative_urgency(self, N, due_days):
        rank = due_days.index(self.days_to)
        return float(rank) / (N - 1)

    def relative_importance(self, total_value):
        return self.value / total_value

    def prioritize(tasks):
        print ("<Task: priority - importance - urgency - "
               "kind - days_to - value>\n")
        N = len(tasks)
        total_value = sum(t.value for t in tasks)
        due_days = sorted([t.days_to for t in tasks], reverse=True)
        for i in tasks:
            i.importance = i.relative_importance(total_value)
            i.urgency = i.relative_urgency(N, due_days)

        for i in sorted(tasks, reverse=True):
            print i

tasks = [
    # name               value       due_date
    Task("Tender",       1000000.0,  date(2009,4,1)),
    Task("Tender",       500400.0,   date(2009,5,1)),
    Task("Tender",       1000000.0,  date(2009,6,1)),
    Task("LeaveRequest", 0.0,        date(2009,7,1)),
    Task("LeaveRequest", 0.0,        date(2009,8,1)),

if __name__ == '__main__':




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